Sitrin is a dedicated member ACT UP Philadelphia
and loves to help make positive change
in the world. She came from humble beginnings to the big city and got involved
in a worthy cause that advocates for HIV/AIDS.
She dedicates her time and energy to make
this world a better place.
(GC): What & how
are you doing as you answer these questions?
Sitrin (SS): Drinking coffee & enjoying
did you get to Philadelphia and get involved
in the work of Act-Up?
I'd been living in NY & working on
social justice issues where it just
seemed like no matter the amazing work
and passion that people were putting
into organizing, no impact was made-
that was not entirly true, but it was
the feeling that a lot of us had when
the war in Iraq began.
Can you give people a brief introduction
to the work of ACT UP and ACT UP Philadelphia?
ACT UP is the AIDS coalition to unleash
power. AIDS is political- it is government
inaction and inequality that fuel this
crisis. Marginalized groups, such as;
Queer folks, Communities of Color, Women,
Transgendered people, and poorer communities;
face structural barriers to accessing
resources. Housing, HIV prevention tools
such as condoms & education,
medical access & insurance are systemically
denied certain groups, either intentially
because of racism, homophobia and religous
prudery, or intentionally because distributing
resources such as treatment, housing
and education cuts into the profits of
are a 20 year old organization that began
as furious activists refused to die in
silence, protesting to demand research,
treatment & prevention. ACT UP is
about organizing to end AIDS through
changing relationships to power.
What has ACT UP Philly been up to recently
and what's the biggest concern your organization
is working on right now?
Housing- as it stands people can't get
housing until they have an AIDS diagnosis.
This means people have to get very sick
before housing is provided, which defeats
the purpose of providing housing as a
means to keep people safe. Even
if people do have an AIDS diagnosis,
they are not necessarily provided with
housing. There is not enough low income
housing for People Living With HIV/AIDS
(or anyone poor!) in Philadelphia. There
are too many bureaucratic hoops to jump
through, including providing photo ID,
social security card, proof of income,
a medical assessment, a mental health
assessment, a drug and alcohol assessment
and many other things (including a "proof" of
Syringe Exchange - people who use drugs are going to share needle and be at
risk for HIV unless there are sites where needles are distributed. As it stands
in Pa., people need a prescription to pick up syringes at the pharmacy. In
Philadelphia we have a syringe exchange through Prevention Point: that came
from the illegal syringe exchange run by members of ACT UP and also through
the organizing that ACT UP members did in the early 90's.
Global Fund - The Global Fund to
Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a partnership that came out of grassroots
organizing to direct money to address the three diseases in poor countries.
To date, the Fund has committed to $15 billion worth of grants in 140 countries,
and has saved an estimated 2.5 million lives.
The Fund’s model
for financing AIDS, TB, and malaria programs is different than anything that
previously existed. Instead of rich countries dictating how aid money can
be spent, countries applying to the Fund for grants develop proposals based
on local needs.
Currently, the fund
is underfunded, and "first
world" nations are not paying
thier share. We must push our leaders to fund the Global Fund.
GC: How important is civic engagement
and have you seen a difference in peoples' attitudes during and after the last
SS: There deffinitly has been a lot
of excitement from a lot of folks, but I have also seen people we work with
who don't have consistant access to housing less than confident that a change
in president can or will directly affect thier lives.
ACT UP, downtown in
Philly, doing a Sarah Palin Rally circa late 2008
GC: How do people
get involved with ACT UP? Please give us your website and Philly info.
SS: ACT UP meets every monday at
St. Lukes' church at 6pm. St. Lukes' is at 13th street between pine and spruce.
our website is www.critpath.org/actup
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