Friday
November 4, 2005

SGN.org
Volume 33
Issue 44

 
 
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Campaign to End AIDS arrives in D.C. today
Campaign to End AIDS arrives in D.C. today
Two-week caravan of six to participate in four days of action to demand increased funding for AIDS treatment and prevention

Seattle residents Mitch Bernal and Eric Bray with Tacoma residents Dani Nyman and Bob Lundford stepped out of the fall Seattle sun Sat., Oct. 22, and into vehicles for a two-week trip across America, the Northern Tier/Diva Express Caravan in the Campaign to End AIDS. The crew, joined by people with HIV/AIDS from along the route will arrive Friday, Nov. 4, in Washington, DC for four days of action demanding increased funding for AIDS treatment, prevention, and an eventual cure.

Mitch Bernal, who has lived with AIDS for 23 years, explained, "I am traveling to DC to be a voice for those who cannot or will not be able to journey with me due to stigma and sickness." Bernal and his fellow travelers gathered in Cal Anderson Park on Oct. 22 for a send-off complete with a well-wishing crowd of supporters, including State Rep. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) and Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

"These riders are dedicating three weeks of their lives to letting people across the country know that we must be vigilant in our efforts to end AIDS," says Tina Podlodowski, executive director of Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Lifelong AIDS Alliance supplied partial scholarships for two riders. "There are 9,050 people living with HIV/AIDS in Washington State. Our nation has the capacity to provide adequate funding and support to help these members of our community live longer and with dignity. Our riders will be sending this message to our elected officials," continued Podlodowski.

"I cannot just sit by and tolerate that people are on a waiting list for the treatments they need to save their lives," said caravan rider Eric Bray.

Twenty-two year old Dani Nyman, a Tacoma resident journeying to Washington, DC, spoke at the rally of his HIV positive diagnosis. As Nyman's parents watched from the crowd, he said, "After I received my diagnosis, I felt so terrible. I told my mother and all she wanted to do was give me a hug. I felt so disgusting, I wouldn't let her. I don't think anyone should have to feel like that, and that is why I am going to Washington, DC."

At the rally's closing, several cars followed the vans driving across the country up and down Broadway, honking horns and attracting the attention of passers-by. The vans first stopped in Spokane where the four riders (plus two drivers from the Campaign to End AIDS office) were joined by three additional riders from Spokane. Since Saturday, the vans have made whistle stops in Coeur D'Alene, ID: Missoula and Billings, MT; Bismark and Fargo, ND; Minneapolis, MN; and Madison, WI. They will continue to DC, stopping in Milwaukee, WI; Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Pittsburgh, PN; and Martinburg, West Virginia.

The "Northern Tier/Diva Express" Campaign to End AIDS caravan, is one of 10 caravans leaving various cities around the United States, stopping in more than 150 towns and cities, and converging in Washington D.C. for an advocates summit Nov. 5-9. Advocates hope to deliver the message that, as Bernal said, "We are a nation that should take the lead in finding a cure, ending AIDS. I cannot wait to be in line for the cure, and I am happy that many others will follow."

Caravan routes, and more information about C2EA, can be found at www.CampaigntoEndAIDS.org.



A Lifelong AIDS Alliance press release

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