Act Up

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

ACT UP, an acronym for "Aids Coalition to Unleash Power", is an activist gay rights organization that works to end AIDS. The group describes itself as "a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis."[1]


ACT UP/New York was started on March 10, 1987 by a group of activists at the LGBT Community Center in New York City. The audience of more than 400 was inspired by a speech given by author Larry Kramer. Two weeks later, ACT UP held its first demonstration which was a die-in on Wall Street to protest the high price of AZT, then the only drug for AIDS. They were also protesting the policies of the Food and Drug Administration. "The protest garnered widespread media attention and put the fledgling group on the national radar. Before long, chapters sprang up in cities across the United States, including San Francisco, and eventually around the world."

"In San Francisco, ACT UP underwent a split in the early 1990s, and the name became associated with a small group of AIDS dissidents and animal rights activists; today, that group's primary activity is running a medical cannabis dispensary. Treatment activists from the original group then started ACT UP/Golden Gate, which in 2000 changed its name to Survive AIDS in order to avoid confusion with ACT UP/San Francisco. Today, besides two groups that recently revived the ACT UP name to commemorate the anniversary, ACT UP/Philadelphia is the only U.S. chapter that continues to meet regularly; ACT UP/Paris also remains active."[2]

Boycott of Philip Morris

In 1990 ACT UP boycotted Philip Morris and its flagship products Miller Beer and Marlboro cigarettes due to the company's support of Congressman Jesse Helms, who opposed gay rights in the legislature. ACT UP eventually agreed to stop its boycott in return for PM doubling its funding AIDS research.

Contact details

ACT UP New York
332 Bleecker St., Suite G5
New York, NY 10014
Email: actupny AT
Websites: (ACT UP New York) (ACT UP Philadelphia) (ACT UP Philadelphia)

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Website, ACT UP New York, accessed January 2011.
  2. Liz Highleyman, "ACT UP turns 20", Bay Area Reporter, March 22, 2007.

External articles

External resources

Additional documents

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