Sore Arms, No Voice but a Full Heart. The “We Can End AIDS” March in Washington D.C.

By Barb Cardell

I came to DC totally prepared for the “We Can End AIDS” mobilization, I had my blue fabric to wave, my sensible shoes and even a water bottle.  What I missed in the planning was a sense of how incredible and overwhelming it would truly be.  My friend Teresa said “It took her breath away.” and I still feel breathless, slightly disoriented but ready for what ever comes next.

Every morning I wake up and feel as if my life has been taken over by Alice in Wonderland, “ I believe in six impossible things before breakfast.”

Today, I marched down the middle of New York Avenue, chanting with so many women and watched an original member of ACT UP along with other organizers  tie dollar bills, pill bottles, clean syringes and even panties to the gates of the White House.  Okay, breakfast was a bit late but it was a busy, amazing and advocacy affirming day.

There were five different arms in the march,  all converging in Lafayette Park, across from the White House.  We marched for Human Rights and Harm Reduction, Sound Policies, People over Pharma Profits, the Robin Hood Tax and my arm that called for Ending the War on Women.

We waved blue fabric and chanted that we were “Women Making Waves”.  And we were, I walked, surrounded by many of my positive friends both from Colorado and the US Positive Women’s Network and I will admit that I was overcome with the beauty and power of the advocates that I have come to call my sisters.

I don’t know if President Obama was home, it is nice to think he was but it almost doesn’t matter.  The march was more for us than for him.  We are tired, so many long time advocates and persons living with HIV are exhausted and what this march did was energize us.

And for a moment I could see the end of it all, the end of AIDS, the end of discrimination and criminalization and the war on women’s rights and the companies  that put profits over people’s lives.  I could see it clear as day and I was overwhelmed that there may be a day, perhaps even close at hand where I won’t have to worry about losing another friend to this scourge of a disease…and so we picked up our sign and marched back down New York Avenue to join in the International AIDS Conference to bring that day to pass because, as we have heard so often this week, we are at a crucial moment in the epidemic and we all have a part to play.