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Workers and other social justice activists attending an international conference on AIDS marched to demand a tax on financial transactions to fund public health and social services and end poverty.

CUPE’s delegation joined the two-hour march through downtown Washington D.C., part of the We Can End AIDS mobilization for economic and human rights.

CUPE delegates and labour allies raised their voices to support the Financial Transaction Tax, also known as the Robin Hood Tax. Protestors stopped in front of three well-known institutions to voice their furor over financial inequity: the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Bank of America and the White House.

Five feeder marches spiralling throughout the city joined together at the White House. Each march highlighed an important theme in the fight to end HIV/AIDS.

CUPE marched alongside International Trade Union Confederation-affiliated unions under the banner “Positive @ Work: AIDS is a Union Issue” and under the PSI and Global Council of Unions “Quality Public Services Action Now!” campaign banner.

The same day, members of CUPE’s delegation attended workshops on overcoming the impact of HIV on indigenous communities, and on holding governments accountable.

The audience was reminded that power has never been willingly granted, that power must be taken,” says Sheryl Burns, who attended the session on government accountability. Burns is a member of CUPE 1936 and the CUPE National Women’s Committee.

A question to the panel highlighted the work still needed to ensure an inclusive understanding of - and response to - HIV/AIDS.

Youth with disabilities, supported by the Stephen Lewis Foundation, attempted to raise the connection between HIV/AIDS and disability. The response to the question of shared funding resources for disability-related organizations was less than satisfactory. A panel member said persons with disabilities were a minority as compared to other minorities, and went on to state that despite the chronic nature of living with HIV/AIDS, it does not lead to a disability,” says Burns.

Moments later, I read a poignant story of a man with HIV/AIDS who has been rendered blind by the disease. Clearly, there is work to do.”