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100 Arrested at ACT UP Protest of CDC’s AIDS Definition

December 4, 1990 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ Police said they arrested 100 demonstrators when a protest against the federal Centers for Disease Control’s definition of AIDS turned destructive.

″They were allowed to demonstrate until they began defacing CDC property,″ said DeKalb County police Maj. J.S. Wilson. ″They painted the building. They beat on the windows and chained themselves to the front entry doors.″

The protesters contend the health agency’s AIDS definition costs women health benefits by failing to include some gynecological conditions that afflict women infected with the AIDS virus.


The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power said 700 people from 30 states participated in the demonstration. Police estimated the crowd at 300.

About 100 were arrested for criminal trespass and a variety of other charges, police said.

The protesters, wearing placards depicting skulls, marched in the rain through the Emory University campus to the nearby CDC complex Monday morning.

Another group was detained after they invaded the CDC executive offices about three miles away, Wilson said.

ACT UP said in a statement that the demonstration included 30 women infected with HIV who spoke of ″how the out-of-date definition based on the history of men diagnosed with AIDS excludes them.″

Of the 154,917 people diagnosed with AIDS, 14,816 are women, said CDC spokesman Chuck Fallis.

He said the agency was studying whether it’s a sign of AIDS or just a coincidence that some HIV-infected women get diseases such as pelvic inflammatory disease and vaginal candidiasis.

″We are continuing to look at this whole spectrum of AIDS in women including these gynecological conditions. We may at some point expand our case definition, but we’re not ready to do that at this point,″ he said.

As for the protesters, he said: ″They’re saying that we are letting women die ... and that CDC doesn’t care about the fate of women with HIV. It seems rather absurd to me.″