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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

25th anniversary of ACT UP: A tribe in desperate trouble

This month marks 25 years since the the start-up in 1987 of ACT Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), the coalition of gay activists that transformed health care for AIDS. The changes they won in funding to fight AIDS, in the ways medical research is performed, etc., marked an historic event in consumerism: the first major victory won by the grassroots efforts of citizens at risk of a particular disease.

My gay college friend Don may be alive because the gay community acted up since then to safeguard themselves, and to speed the development of anti-retroviral drugs that kept many of his friends healthy.

I hope we in the patient advocate community can one day be equally successful in promoting safer care. As Frank Bruni wrote in the NY Times on March 17: "a tribe in desperate trouble...elected self-reliance over self-pity, tapping its own reserves of intellect, ingenuity and grit to make sure its members were cared for."

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