Launched in May 2005, Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA) is a coalition of HIV-positive Americans, activists, and organisations engaging in rallies and other advocacy endeavours to demand that local, national, and world leaders take steps to stop the epidemic in the United States and abroad. The national grassroots movement is supported by AIDS and community groups across the country, and draws on community involvement and action through local events and cross-country caravans.
Communication Strategies: 

C2EA uses interpersonal communication - activism in the form of local organising and mobilisation - to highlight and call for the need for increased AIDS funding and an end to stigma and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS. In the early months of the campaign, the national framework for C2EA was put in place by a series of 10 C2EA caravans that traveled different routes through the United States en route to the capitol city of Washington, DC, USA. Together, the caravans gave rise to rallies and marches, town meetings, prayer breakfasts, concerts, and other local events in more than 150 stops nationwide. African Americans, who account for nearly half of new HIV infections in the USA, made up roughly half of all C2EA travelers. Along these lines, organisers explain their use of caravans as an organising technique by noting that, "as HIV/AIDS increasingly becomes a disease of color and of poverty, we drew inspiration from Martin Luther King's 1968 Poor People's March on Washington when countless folks of all races voyaged journeyed to D.C. from around the country to demand economic human rights for all."

As is fitting for an advocacy campaign that focuses on challenging government inaction on AIDS, C2EA's "Days of Action" take place in Washington, D.C. Designed to raise public awareness and stimulate change, these public protests call for such Congressional action as the reauthorisation and full funding of the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides treatment and care to more than a half-million uninsured Americans with HIV/AIDS, and increased funding programmes to support people with AIDS worldwide (e.g., the U.N. Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria). Symbolism is used in some of these events to make a statement. For example, at the campaign launch, more than 3,500 people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones converged on Washington, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue and then lining up 8,500 pairs of donated shoes in the street directly in front of the White House to symbolise the number of people worldwide who die of AIDS daily. They chanted, "We can end AIDS, we know how! Tell [President George W.] Bush, stop AIDS now!" This "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" march involved inviting leaders to "join us in walking the walk of AIDS compassion, not just talking the talk," in the words of the Campaign's HIV-positive co-chair, Rev. Charles King.

Partnership is a core programme strategy. C2EA seeks to mobilise and unite a wide range of individuals living with or impacted by AIDS, as well as a broad spectrum of organisations, including: national groups such as AIDS Project Los Angeles and New York City's Gay Men's Health Crisis; rural and regional groups such as the Regional Interfaith AIDS Network (RAIN) Oklahoma and the Southern AIDS Coalition; and grassroots activist leaders, including ACT UP/Philadelphia and Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP). Political leaders have also lent their voices to champion the C2EA cause; one Advocacy Day included a Capitol Hill press conference at which Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI) and Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) championed the core demands of C2EA, which participants then outlined in visits to virtually every congressional office.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is used as a tool to facilitate participation in the campaign. The Campaign to End AIDS website features a 21-point plan to halt the epidemic worldwide, an activist toolkit, details about how to get involved in campaign events, and an interactive weblog. One may view the C2EA public service announcement (PSA) here, as well.

In June 2005, more than 150 young activists (ages 16-26) gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Campaign's Youth Training Institute, which introduced participants to "the ABCs of AIDS activism - everything from grassroots organizing to press relations." Veteran AIDS leaders shared skills with this fresh generation of activists, taking on mentorship roles that were meant to continue beyond the Institute.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Rights.

Key Points: 

Organisers point to funding shortfalls that they claim have led to waiting lists for lifesaving AIDS drugs in up to 16 states, as well as to federally-funded abstinence-only programmes that "have threatened two decades of scientifically proven HIV prevention". One C2EA national co-chair explains, "People living with HIV/AIDS understand how government inaction can lead to needless suffering and death. Sadly, as AIDS activists, we are all much too familiar with this systemic inaction - particularly when it comes to poor people, people of color and other marginalized people. It's our duty to keep our country's eyes opened to these mass inequalities and their deadly consequences."

Half of all money donated at C2EA events along caravan routes and in Washington went to agencies serving the estimated 21,000 people with HIV/AIDS affected by Hurricane Katrina.