History

1987

Fall – On the initiative of Michael Lynch, long-time activist, writer and person living with HIV/AIDS, a group of gay activists and PLWA/HIV begin meeting to look at problems of medical care, access to drugs and research facing people with HIV in Toronto

1988

February – This group organizes a public meeting at Jarvis Collegiate and over 300 people attend founding AIDS ACTION NOW!.  The meeting establishes three demands:

- immediate access to aerosolized pentamidine

- a consensus conference on standards of care

- Access to experimental treatments

March – A demonstration protests the use of placebos in the pentamidine trial.  The trial plans to kill a dozen people to prove what is already known from US studies.  AAN! sets up the Pentamidine Project to obtain the drug in the US for PLWAs in Toronto.

May 18 – AAN! leads most of the participants attending the national AIDS conference in Toronto on a demonstration which culminates in the burning in effigy of federal Minister of Health Jake Epp.  The event makes national news and puts the AIDS crisis on the federal agenda.  A week later, AAN! activists publicly take unauthorized and generally unavailable AIDS treatments at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

June 26 – AAN! publishes Treatment AIDS on upcoming treatments and distributes thousands of copies at Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.

Fall – AAN! demands anonymous HIV test sites in Ontario and the creation of a national treatment registry.

November - AAN! harasses Brian Mulroney whenever he appears in Toronto during the federal election campaign.

1989

January – The new federal Health Minister, Perrin Beatty, relents and makes a range of experimental AIDS treatments available through the Emergency Drug Release Program (EDRP).  The unethical pentamidine trial is terminated.

February – AAN! protests outside Toronto’s Don Jail for better access to health care for HIV+ prisoners.  The AAN! prisons subcommittee will ultimately go on to found PASAN, Prisoners’ AIDS Support and Advocacy Network.

June – AAN! joins with ACT UP New York and Reaction SIDA to seize the stage at the international AIDS conference in Montreal.  We denounce the Mulroney government’s inaction on AIDS to the world press.  The groups jointly publish the Montreal Manifesto, an international bill of rights for PLWAs.

Summer – AAN! demands the release of DDI on a compassionate basis and supports Eva Halpert’s month long picket of the Bristol Meyers offices, demanding the drug for her son.  Our activists are arrested after occupying the Bristol Meyers office.  The company gives in and makes DDI available.

 

December – AAN! reconfirms its elected steering committee to help maintain HIV+ control of the organization, after some members attempt to change the constitution so that policy can only be set by whomever turns up at the general monthly meetings.

1990

February 12 – AAN! organizes a major demonstration protesting the call to quarantine sexually active HIV+ people by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Richard Schabas.  Schabas’s quarantine plans are blocked and every community AIDS organization in the province calls for his resignation.

Spring – AAN! sets up the Treatment Information Exchange (TIE) to make information on cutting edge treatments available in Toronto.

April – Federal Health Minister Beatty announces funding for a National Treatment Registry as part of the National AIDS Strategy, meeting one of AAN!’s major demands after a pressure campaign supported by the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS).

May – After AAN! works to establish a National Network of People Living with AIDS, CAS agrees to more HIV+ representation on its Board of Directors.

Fall – AAN! begins its campaign against the high costs of AIDS treatments and demands a Provincial AIDS Strategy including a catastrophic drug plan.

October – The provincial Minister of Health agrees to anonymous testing and AAN! members are appointed to the new Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV and AIDS (OACHA).  AAN!’s constitution is amended to guarantee HIV+ majority on its steering committee.

December – AAN! hosts a Toronto press conference with the Primary Care Physicians Group demanding incentives for doctors to enter AIDS medicine, in the face of a shortage of doctors of crisis proportions.

1991

February – AAN!’s TIE project becomes the Community AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE), an independent charitable organization.

March – AAN! protests continuing delay on the setting up of the National Information Treatment Registry (TISA), now known as the AIDS Treatment Information System (ATIS).

March 91, 92 and 93 – AAN! creates a visible presence at International Women’s Day demonstrations in Toronto highlighting the needs of women living with AIDS.

September 20 – AAN! members occupy the office of the provincial Minister of Health demanding a catastrophic drug funding plan.

December – AAN! publishes AIDS and HIV Drug Trials in Canada:  What You Need to Know.

1992

June 26 – AAN! organizes a “die-in” at Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.  Thousands demonstrate for AIDS funding

October 30 – AAN! Activists deliver a giant petition to Rosedale riding Tory MP David McDonald demanding increases in federal AIDS funding.

December – AAN! publishes and distributes AIDS and HIV Treatment Management Guide in the face of the provincial government’s inaction on establishing standards of care for HIV related illnesses.

1993

January – AAN! Co-chair, James Thatcher, appears on videotape on national television just after his death which he attributes to his inability to afford necessary drugs.  Thatcher’s death increases pressure on the provincial government for a catastrophic drug plan.

March – Activists demands lead to a small increase in the federal AIDS budget in spite of cutbacks in other areas of spending.

June – AAN!’s second annual Lesbian and Gay Pride Day “die-in” allows tens of thousands to participate in a protest against the provincial government’s inaction on AIDS.

August 20 – AAN! convenes a national conference of treatment activists.  Thirty three activists from 20 organizations from Halifax to Victoria attend, subsidized by the James Thatcher fund.  Participants discuss research priorities and strategies to pressure the government to take a more proactive role to encourage research.

October – AAN! confronts  Jean Chretien, seeking to become the next Prime Minister, prior to a speaking engagement as part of the federal election campaign.  AAN! attempts to get Chretien to commit to increased funding for AIDS research if he is elected.  The confrontation receives wide coverage in national media in both English and French.  Other actions by AAN! included the disruption of a campaign stop by Prime Minister Kim Campbell at which AAN! members were arrested.

October – AAN! dresses up statues on the grounds of Queen’s Park as AIDS Activists and issues news release to protest the inaction by the government to move forward on a promise to implement a catastrophic drug plan.

December – AAN! interrupts provincial government celebrations of World AIDS Day carrying large pills with MPPs’ names on them in huge pill containers.  Marchers descend on the Minister’s office to demand a catastrophic drug program.

1994

February- AAN! stages a silent protest at the opening of the new immunodeficiency clinic at the Toronto Hospital in which PLWAs protested the provincial Minister of Health’s inaction on AIDS.

Spring – AAN! members meet with area federal MPs to press for more funding for AIDS research in Canada and access to experimental treatments for PLWAs.

March – At international Women’s Day, AAN! distributes 8,000 stickers denouncing the standard of care for women with HIV and AIDS.

March 7 – AAN! marches on the Cabinet at Queen’s Park to demand that the government make good on its promise to cover the costs of drugs for people with HIV/AIDS.

March 24 – AAN! proposes conflict of interest guidelines to the Canadian HIV Trials Network and Medical Research Council to reduce the possibility of coercion of research subjects by doctors/researchers.

April 26 – AAN disrupts Question Period at the Ontario Legislature, unfurling an AAN! banner and throwing fake money onto the politicians to remind them of the need for a catastrophic drug funding program.

June 2 – AAN! brings out researchers from the Canadian Association for HIV Research to a demonstration demanding more federal support for AIDS research in Canada.  More than a hundred researchers sign the AAN! petition to Parliament call for more research funding.

June 6 – AAN! sets up a picket in front of the Royal Ontario Museum where the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association is holding a gala dinner.  The picket is intended to highlight practices of insurance companies which have a negative impact on PLWAs.

June 20 – AAN! Co-chair Mark Freamo speaks to a federal consultation on immigration opposing proposed mandatory HIV testing for prospective immigrants.

June 23 – AAN! meets with the Drug Quality Therapeutics Committee (DQTC) to demand that Rifabutin and Mepron be added to the drug formulary, to publicize Section 8′s, to develop a formulary specifically for HIV and to set up a subcommittee of community HIV experts to advise the DQTC.

July 3 – An AAN! float leads the march at Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.  The float ridicules Premier Bob Rae’s failure to deliver on his promise to PLWAs to implement a catastrophic drug program.

September 23 – AAN! organizes a demonstration at the provincial Ministry of Health on the theme “Bob Rae is hanging PLWAs out to dry” protesting the government’s failure to introduce a catastrophic drug program.

October 5 – AAN! meets with politicians in Ottawa including Real Menard of the B.Q. who is supportive of AAN!’s mandate and agrees to help AAN! raise issues in the House of Commons.

November 19 – AAN! members attempt to take the stage at the provincialNDP conference in Hamilton.  An impromptu meeting with Premier Rae is held and the Premier promises to reconsider a catastrophic drug program.

November 30 – The Ontario government announces that a catastrophic drug program will be implemented by April 1995 and AAN! calls off plans to burn Premier Bob Rae in effigy at a huge demonstration planned for World AIDS Day on December 1st.

1995

February – AAN! holds a press conference to highlight its release of a report card on the performance of all major pharmaceutical companies involved in AIDS treatment and research.

March – In the face of the government’s social service cutbacks, AAN! makes “Fight the Cuts” the theme of its activities at International Women’s Day.

April – AAN! members begin meetings and consultations with the DQTC to work for speedier inclusion of AIDS drugs on the Ontario Drug Formulary.

June – CATIE receives the federal government contract to implement the National AIDS Treatment Information Service, a concept first proposed by AAN! in 1989.

July 2 – Thousands of people carry AAN! placards at Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Day celebrations.  Thousands more sport AAN! tattoos.

Summer – AAN! begins a postcard campaign demanding that Abbott Pharmaceutical provide compassionate release for its new protease inhibitor.  Parallel campaigns by activists in Canada and the U.S. lead to a limited compassionate release of the drug in September.

Summer – AAN! spearheads efforts to win changes in the protocol of a study into the effect of vitamins C and E on people with HIV, after it is revealed that study participants are required to fall below the standard of care in terms of nutritional supplementation.  Researchers finally agree to the demanded changes.

October 1 – AAN! launches a national campaign to demand the federal government renew research funding for AIDS under the National AIDS Strategy.  Research funds have already been exhausted.  Thousands of individuals across Canada send postcards to Health Minister Diane Marleau, demanding money for AIDS research.

October 30 – An AAN! delegation meets with Premier Mike Harris around provincial AIDS initiatives and the effect of provincial social service cuts on PLWAs.  A follow up meeting takes place with the Minister of Health Jim Wilson December 7.

November 29 - AAN! meets with representatives of Boehringer Ingelheim and wins compassionate release of Nevaripine, an experimental anti-HIV drug.

December 1 – AAN! organizes a demonstration on International AIDS Day to protest the provincial government’s cuts to social services and the failure of the federal government to renew the National AIDS Strategy.

1996

January - AAN! holds press conference with CTN and CAHR to draw attention to the need for a National AIDS Strategy.

February 28 – AAN! stages a community forum to present promising findings emerging from the Washington conference on immunology and virology.

March 18 – AAN! distributes 15,000 post cards in a campaign aimed at the prime minister urging continuation of the National AIDS Strategy.

March 26 – AAN! officially launches its Globe and Mail Ad Campaign as part of its overall strategy to save the National AIDS Strategy.

April 26 – AAN! demands that Janssen-Ortho provides compassionate access to Loviride.  After meeting with AAN!, Janssen-Ortho agrees.

May 8 – ANN! disrupts speech by David Dingwall, Minister of Health, as he launches Canada Post’s new AIDS stamp.  Later that day, Dingwall agrees to meet with AAN! to discuss the renewal of the National AIDS Strategy.

May – AAN! attends a breakfast meeting with federal MPs to raise the profile of the National AIDS Strategy.

June 30 – AAN! once again has a strong presence at the annual Lesbian and Gay Pride Day with its banner focusing on the National AIDS Strategy and thousands of placards.

July – AAN! places a full page ad in the national edition of the Globe and Mail urging the Prime Minister to renew the National AIDS strategy. Along with activists from across the country we shout down Health Minister David Dingwall’s opening speech to the XI International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Vancouver and ensure that renewal of the NAS is a media focus throughout the conference.

September – AAN! begins a campaign to reform the Trillium Drug Program in Ontario. We fight to ensure that high deductibles and long application processing time are ended.

March – AAN! members are involved in setting up CTAC, the Canadian Treatment Action Council, the country’s first national treatment activist effort.

Fall – AAN! organizes demonstrations demanding renewal of the National AIDS Strategy at a meeting of the Provincial and Federal Health ministers and at a Liberal fundraising dinner featuring Prime Minister Jean Chretien. We also initiate a national phone lobbying campaign of MPs and rally support among Liberal MPs in the Toronto area for renewal of the NAS.

October – After years of activist pressure begun by AAN!, the Ontario Ministry of Health provides funding for viral load testing.

1997

April- AAN! activists Maggie Atkinson and Louise Binder disrupt one of Jean Chretien’s first speeches of the 1997 election campaign.  The Liberals scramble to announce the renewal of the NAS.

Summer- AAN! continues to press for compassionate access to experimental drugs, traveling to Ottawa to support Real Menard’s private members bill requiring compassionate access, organizing a postcard campaign at Toronto’s Pride Day celebrations to demand the release of Glaxo’s new drug 1592, and negotiating with other pharmaceutical companies to win early release of important products.

Fall – AAN! continues to lobby to ensure that funds in the NAS will be spent in such a way to meet the real needs of people with AIDS.

Winter- AAN! supports a campaign by steering committee member Jim Wakeford demanding the legalization of medical marijuana.

Winter- AAN! meets with and lobbies Toronto City Councilors to argue for the maintenance of public health budgets to support needle exchange, condom distribution,  anonymous testing and safer sex programs in the new megacity.

1998

February – The premiere of a feature documentary highlighting the work of former AAN! Chair Brian Farlinger and other activists is held as a fundraiser and 10th anniversary celebration for AAN!

Spring- After our efforts with other community partners to save the Wellesley Hospital prove fruitless and the hospital is closed, AAN! calls a meeting which founds the We’re No Angels Coalition. The Coalition demands that Saint Michael’s Hospital which has taken over Wellesley programs provide the full range of sexual and reproductive health services formerly available at the Wellesley and calls on the Minister of Health to make St Michael’s a public hospital.

March – A day long conference on the future of AIDS activism is organized as part of AAN!’s 10 anniversary celebrations.

April- AAN! appears before the Patent Medicines Prices Review Board to demand cheaper, more accountable pricing of AIDS drugs and a national pharmacare program.

June 28 – AAN!’s contingent in Toronto’s Pride Day parade highlights the victories of AIDS activism over the last 10 years.

Fall – Preparing for an expected spring election AAN! Spearheads an Ontario wide coalition called the AIDS Provincial Election Campaign (APEC) to try and unseat the Tory government. We prepare to do a riding-by-riding analysis in order to concentrate on areas the Tories are vulnerable.

Winter – AAN!’s Treatment Access and Research Committee publishes Tests and Health Assessments You Need To Save Your Life, a booklet to encourage People with AIDS to demand the range of new tests which are becoming available.  The booklet is distributed at clinics across Ontario.

1999

January – The provincial government cuts off Ontario Drug Benefits funding of nutritional supplements from all those who can eat any other foods. AAN! Begins a campaign to restore funding for these supplements which protect many People With AIDS from wasting.

Spring – As part of APEC, AAN! works hard to defeat Tory candidates in the Toronto area because of the government’s attacks on the health care system and the social safety net, which are essential to the lives of people living with AIDS and HIV.

September 26 – AAN! hands out thousands of postcards at Toronto’s AIDS walk calling on the provincial government to restore full funding for nutritional supplements.

2000

Due to declining membership, the loss of many experienced activists, and the emergence of activist strategies among other organizations dealing with AIDS issues, AAN! suspends regular steering committee meetings and transforms itself into a less formal activist network that comes together to deal with issues as they arise.

2001

March 5 – AAN! joins with CTAC to organize a demonstration in support of South African AIDS activists’ demands that the pharmaceutical industry provide AIDS treatments at a reasonable cost in Africa and other developing parts of the world.

2002

June 30 – AAN! distributes thousands of placards and fans at Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Week celebrations to support the maintenance of an accessible, universal, public health care system in Canada, in the face of government underfunding and threats of privatization.

2004

June 27- AAN! distributes thousands of postcards at Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Pride day celebrations urging people to vote in the following day’s federal elections where health care and LGBT rights are at stake.

2006

November – Energized by the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, a number of old and new activists come together to revitalize AAN!.  Several public meetings are held and a steering committee is elected.

December - AAN! Holds a demonstration at Dundas Square to protest the Harper government’s failure to make its promised announcement on Canada’s commitment to the struggle against AIDS. In the evening, we co-host a presentation of Beat It/Siyayinqoba, a film about AIDS activism in South Africa.

2007

April 26 - AAN! and Asian Community AIDS Services protest Abbott Laboratories’ retaliation against Thailand when that country’s licenses a generic pharmaceutical firm to produce Kaletra for Thai use, after Abbott refused to lower the price of the drug.

July 7 – AAN! joins with the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention  and Gays and Lesbians of African Descent at Toronto’s Afrofest Music Festival to collect signatures on Global Treatment Access Group postcards to be sent to the Canadian government demanding that Canada increase foreign aid and its contributions to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, invest in public health systems in developing countries, push for immediate and unconditional debt cancellation for developing countries, and eliminate obstacles to the export of Canadian made generic medicines to the developing world under the Access to Medicines Regime.

September 7 – AAN! sends a letter of protest to the South African High Commission regarding the dismissal of that country’s Deputy Minister of Health, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge.  She had been instrumental in the development of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS.

November 28 – AAN! protests the Harper government’s indifference to the AIDS epidemic evidenced by a reduction in funds available to ASOs, its failure to reform the Access to Medicines Regime, the dropping of harm reduction from the national Anti-Drug strategy, and its failure to honor the Kelowna accords.

2008

November - AAN! steps up its involvement with the Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure to help organize a public forum on the effects of the criminalization of non disclosure and to bring together a legal team to assist in defense efforts.

 

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