Just Do It…ACT UP Storytelling and Archives Exhibit

By Annamarya Scaccia

Thu., June 5, 5-9 p.m., free, Joe Coffee Bar, 1100 Walnut St., 215-985-4448, ext. 250, critpath.org/actup

According to the Department of Public Health, 16,024 Philadelphians are living with HIV/AIDS. It’s a mind-blowing and frightening number that local AIDS coalition ACT UP continues to battle, with 2008 marking 20 years of its fight against the disease internationally, nationally and right here in Philly. In celebration of its work and recognizing June as AIDS Education Month, the group is holding an anniversary party at Joe Coffee Bar. The night will include an archives exhibit consisting of photographs, posters, press releases, fliers, signs, buttons and other mementos from past demonstrations and events. Additionally, former and current members along with friends and supporters will have a chance to share their experiences and memories, which will be recorded with consent for the coalition’s oral history project.

But as ACT UP member Kaytee Riek points out, the anniversary party is much more than a day of reflection — it’s also about remembering how much further there is to go in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “Hopefully people will get re-engaged in the fight because right now, AIDS isn’t over,” she says. “AIDS has been around for 27 years now. ACT UP’s been around for 20 of it, and we’re not going away until the AIDS crisis is over.”

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