(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – Students from across the country gathered in Washington DC on Saturday to draw attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Organizers from the Student Global AIDS Campaign said about 5,000 participants from more than 100 colleges and universities marched from the White House to the Capitol.
They said they hoped to draw 8,000 students to represent the number of young people who are infected daily, as well as the 8,000 people worldwide who die from the disease each day. However, Bob Elliot, cofounder of the campaign, said this is the largest rally the group has ever organized, and he was pleased with the turnout because of the “youth to youth link.”
“AIDS is truly a youth issue,” he said.
Marchers called on the Bush administration to fully fund international and domestic programs offering prevention and treatment, as well as support multilateral debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries and comprehensive sexual education programs.
Tonia Obsy, a freshman at DePaul University said she drove 16 hours from Chicago because she believes the U.S. has “an ethical obligation” to provide resources to under developed countries.
“I think it’s so hard to sit around and watch a whole continent like Africa die,” she said.
In addition to the march, students will attend a Youth Summit to End AIDS on Sunday and a National Student Lobby Day at the House of Representatives and the Senate on Monday.
Emma Simson, SGAC co-chapter leader at the University of Maryland, said, “I think that if we continue with our advocacy and continue with our pressure, we can achieve a lot.”