charlie chaplin speech i love

This speech, I saw it a few years ago, and its always blown me away that Charlie Chaplin write this in 1937 before the world was fully aware of the power the Nazi regime was building, and that in Hollywood of 1940 this film with this speech in and a full out parody of Hitler (Chaplin plays a Hitler-esque dictator and a Jewish barber who looks just like the dictator and gets mistaken for him)…

Final Speech of "The Great Dictator" (also known as "Look Up, Hannah") by Charlie Chaplin

Schulz: Speak – it is our only hope.

The Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin’s character): Hope…
I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business –
I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone
if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one
another, human beings are like that.

We all want to live
by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to
hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone
and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.

But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We
have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that
gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need
kindness and gentleness.
Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The
aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very
nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out
for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is
reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men,
women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture
and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say "Do not
despair".

The misery that is now upon us is but the
passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human
progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power
they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men
die [now] liberty will never perish…

Soldiers – don’t
give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who
regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to
feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t
give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds
and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are
men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate –
only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers –
don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the
seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written " the kingdom of God is
within man " – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in
you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power
to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have
the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a
wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power
– let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that
will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old
age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to
power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will.
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight
to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with
national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let
us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will
lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Look
up! Look up! The clouds are lifting – the sun is breaking through. We
are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new
world. A kind new world where men will rise above their hate and
brutality.

The soul of man has been given wings – and at
last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow – into the
light of hope – into the future, that glorious future that belongs to
you, to me and to all of us. Look up. Look up."

tony kushner to graduates

my friend janine sent this for my baby sister's graduation message and 
i read it and wanted to share it. i had lunch with a lovely family today
that included a brilliant 2 yr old who sucked me into his little world. i
had breakfast with davey d - not 2, but brilliant and also with a world to
go into. my family is in their world right now, preparing for the end of
their childrens' college days. my only duty is to smile.

tony kushner says:

"This May I sense hope in the air, and urgency, and as has so often been
the recent case, terrible danger, and so the urgent need of the world is
about to snatch you, ready or not, from this most beautiful brick and
stony womb and begin its demanding: HELP! HELP! HELP! The world is
melting, the world is darkening, there is injustice everywhere, there is
artificial scarcity everywhere, there is desperate human need, poverty
and untreated illness and exploitation everywhere, there is ignorance
everywhere, not native to the species but cruelly enforced, there is
joylessness and hatred of the body and slavery masked as freedom and
community disintegrating, everywhere, racism, everywhere, sexism,
everywhere, homophobia, everywhere, everywhere the world is in need of
repair. Fix it, solve these things, you need only the tools you have
learned here, even if you didn't pay as much attention as you should,
even if you're a mess and broke and facing a future of economic terror -
who isn't, who doesn't? HELP! HELP! HELP! The world is calling, heal the
world and in the process heal yourself, find the human in yourself by
finding the citizen, the activist, the hero. Down with the boodle-minded
misadventurers, after them, you know where they are, I figured this
speech should be nonpartisan in case there are any, you know,
Republicans in the audience but even if you are Republican, after them,
down with the boodle-minded misadventurers, up with the Republic. Duty
calls, the world calls, get active! No summer vacation, no rest for you,
we have been waiting too long for you, we need your contribution too
desperately, and if they tell you your contribution is meaningless, if
they tell you the fix is in and there's no contribution to be made, if
they tell you to contribute by shopping your credit card into
exhaustion, if they tell you to surrender the brilliant, dazzling
confusion your education should have engendered in you, to exchange that
quicksilver polyphony for dull monotone certainties, productive only of
aggression borne of boredom and violence borne of fear borne of
stupidity, they're lying, don't trust them, get rid of them, you know
who they are and where they are to be found and they'll all be happier
back on the ranch in Crawfordsville."
       
--Tony Kushner, Columbia College Class Day, 2004

found poem 2

from a may 2001 national geographic story about jaguars on mexico’s yucatan peninsula:

‘i would like to be the jaguar of your mountains
and take you to my dark cave
open your chest there
and see if you have a heart’

and a song called ‘shelter’ by ray lamontagne:

‘left you heartbroken, but not until those very words were spoken

Has anybody ever made such a fool out of you’

so, this is the found poem in response to a visit from my parents and all that surrounded it (a reminder that for all my lessons sometimes i just can’t believe). i heard the song at dinner, and found the magazine in my hallway in a pile about to be recycled:

you must be the jaguar
coming here so many years, to this dark place
where you open me up
gazing, you ask me to say it again
yes, yes i’m still a fool

or my mountains
you have been standing by for years
i see your hot tears
but even lava could not hurt me
i remain, amazingly, still not perfect

or perhaps my cave
that black place i go to because i cannot lie
where when i speak of love
i mean it unconditionally
you should see the night from here

but i’d have sworn you were my heart
i’ve watched that foolish rhythm smiling
don’t ask me to dance
i still wonder if you are real at all
or a myth to make me less a danger to myself

you, the shelter no one knows i’ve been running to
you, the song i keep singing to myself
this is the world i made
with the gifts you gave me
this is the world i always wanted

my church

sanctuary: central park, aids walk

just got home from the aids walk, which is still my favorite event in the world. its the best gathering of people ever. fabulosity and dogs and babies and folks wearing their in remembrance of shirts and cheerleaders and people singing and hobbling and sashaying and its just the best convergence, i get those humanity-and-god-up-my-spine chills the whole time. each time i have more people to walk for, but remarkably – and perhaps foolishly – each time i feel more human, like i’ve seen more perseverance and innovation. amidst the constant loss there is more life than ever. this time i walked with jenn, piper, naina and shane. it was thick today, the air was literally heavy on us and the sky was holding a storm in her skirt but she let us just make it all the way through and spend a minute on the grass. seeing all those people turn out with the threat of thunderstorms, all the kids, all the families. i never regret waking up for this walk.

hymn – listen to citizen cope ‘my way home’:

Sometimes I miss a step
I stumble here and there
I’m findin’ my way home
If I’m lost then I’ll admit
Sometimes i plain forget
I’m findin’ my way home
You can try and stand in my way
You can say what you’re gonna say
But I’m finding my way home

and then go to confession:

http://postsecret.blogspot.com/

hallelujah. amen.

why bother?

written in response to a friend who was asking about the point of integrity if the human race is on a downward spiral:

wow.
this is a lot. i’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot too, and i think when you come to town and we have our date i would love to focus on this, for real. but my short, quick answer is kind of what i wrote in the stop the next war book, which is that two things need to happen. first is that we can’t really survive more of the wishy washy stuff, people need to really develop a revolutionary analysis and those of us who have started on one need to pass it along WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. and the second thing is that we have to WAKE UP with the analysis and find the BEST working strategies, not the same old shit, not the left version of right shit, but the best of all of our times, the best innovations. we have to really work in strategy, not in ideology…and we have to work with real people, not just agree in our academic/activist/artist circles. i think that people who become too deeply mired in only observing and theorizing on humanity in hopes that UNDERSTANDING will change it…they become less real, have a less real human experience. but then again i have been working hard on developing my faith in a power – or i think consciousness is the better word for it – higher and more developed and comprehensive than my own. it allows me to feel i can ask questions that i am not responsible for answering. to have hope when there is no reason. to look for a way when i can see none – and so far the way gets uncovered, the hope fills me up, the constant answer comes back (all is known, all is unknown – these are the constant conclusions of my heart when its open).

all that said, in response to your question as i hear it (‘what good is my good doing?’), one of my most encouraging quotes to return to, and i am paraphrasing, is from octavio paz’s speech when he won the nobel prize, which is this: given what we know of time and human development (that there is a past, present, future – that we look back to some set of people as being in the middle ages) then aren’t we some future generation’s middle/dark age. i think at first that isn’t a heartening quote, but i’ll tell you how it works out in my head – while we are fumbling and feeling earnestly modern, we also grasp at least on a subconscious level the temporary-ness of our times by looking at the arc of our own short histories and how different we are, how differently we see things from when we were ‘young’, teen-agers, and so on. movementwise, in our century alone we can see massive peaks and flaws in how we mobilized, educated and organized populations for change. as far as i can understand it looking back, at almost every point in history it has APPEARED that the whole human experiment was a massive moral failure. and yet the flow and impact of integrity builds – we celebrate integrity, we fashion our created heros out of visions of a moral high ground that holds a reverence for humanity and the planet highest. without necessarily understand why, people still strive for what they feel is good. the issue is perhaps that the standards for good are so varied, come from so many sources – parents, god, teachers, your children, shame…i find that the more media i hear the more hopeless i feel, but the more people i interact with the more i am sure that we are not only preserving but honing the human spirit, even in this period of apparent low.

last of all, and this may sound zen or silly or i don’t know but it does help me…whenever i start to feel as if the work i am doing is pointless or in the wrong direction, i reflect on my necessary insignificance, and i laugh. every ‘hero’ i’ve ever had fell apart upon close inspection. up close its so messy, no matter what your human aim is. wisdom is flighty, few people are remembered, your work is really only important insomuch as you are freeing masses of people from bondage – of mind, body, spirit. and once i swallow my smallness, i examine what i am doing – make sure its the absolute best and most i can do and that it is towards the end of freeing people to seize their own meaning in life – and i get back to work.

STORE WARS

check it!

Friends:

From Free Range Studios, makers of The Meatrix, comes another epic
sci-fi mini-movie not to be missed:

http://www.storewars.org

Meet the heroes of the Organic Rebellion: Cuke Skywalker, Ham Solo and   Chewbroccoli. With guidance from wise old Obi Wan Cannoli, this small  band  of vegetable puppets (yes, vegetable puppets) is battling against  Darth  Tader, evil lord of the Dark Side of The Farm.

May the Farm Be With You.

-Gita

the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

-

donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY
the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

-

donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY
the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

-

donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY
the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

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donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY