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D.C. HIV Activists Shout Mayor Gray Off Stage

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The War Horse Native American drummers from Silver Spring offered a blessing at Monday's opening ceremony for the 2012 International AIDS Conference at the Global Village. Evidently, the blessing did not extend to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, because his turn to speak was interrupted by protesters.

"There are a thousand people on a waiting list for AIDS housing here in the District of Columbia," shouted a protester. "That is shameful and that's why we say 'shame, shame, shame.'"

The half dozen HIV activists that stampeded into Gray's s press conference said the mayor's citywide task force on HIV had done very little other than hold a few token meetings. Gray, who has been an outspoken supporter of HIV prevention programs, asked that he be allowed to finish his welcoming remarks, but protesters chanted the mayor off the stage, saying his administration had not presented a comprehensive plan to address the District's escalating HIV/AIDS problem and secure city assisted housing for approximately 1,000 HIV patients.

On his way out Gray had little to say. "I've not seen any list, I know nothing about a list and wouldn't have used it even if there was a list," said Gray.

DC Appleseed, which for seven years has rated the District's efforts to battle HIV/AIDS, included housing for the first time in the latest report issued last week. The city's housing efforts were not graded. The report merely noted that in spite of a litany of programs in place to help low income residents obtain affordable housing, the tens of thousands of people requiring housing overburdens current resources.


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