AIDS activists began gathering at the state Capitol 13 years ago to call attention to the toll the epidemic was taking on Connecticut and to demand $1 million in housing for people with HIV.
Now, year after year, they return to Hartford “to continue our campaign of educating legislators about what your lives are like, what HIV looks like in the state and why the vital services from prevention to syringe exchange to care and housing are so important,” said Shawn M. Lang, co-chair of the AIDS Life Campaign.
Lang was among the speakers addressing this year’s gathering on the north steps of the Capitol Wednesday. Other speakers included various political leaders and members of the Connecticut HIV Planning Youth Advisory Group.
Lang said she keeps a collection of photos near her desk of people she knew who have died of AIDS over the past three decades.
“They’re a constant reminder of why it’s so important that this fight must go on.” Lang said.
But, she added, “there’s been a lot of complacency around HIV activism over the years, which instead should be the nudge we so badly need to renew our energies and our focus.”
The energy that marked the AIDS awareness movement in the 1980s and 1990s has largely dissipated, she said.
“Where’s that energy now? Where’s the gay community now? Where’s the anger and the outrage? Why is AIDS no longer a priority within the LGBT communities?” Lang asked.