About this Archive
AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) is an international direct-action advocacy group working to bring about legislation, medical research and treatment, and policies ultimately to bring an end to AIDS by mitigating loss of health and lives. ACT UP was formed in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York.
ACT UP London also formed in the 1980s and, just like the other factions in New York and Paris, their mission was to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDs epidemic and to pressure governments into taking action.
ACT UP used various methods in order to raise awareness and spread their message. One of the most effective methods of protest used by ACT UP groups internationally is the mass "die-in". This involves protestors carrying crosses and lying on the ground completely still as though dead. In June 1989, ACT UP London used this method to protest against The Sunday Telegraph, who attacked the LGBTQ+ community through its misinterpretation of AIDS-infected people.
Furthermore, around the world, ACT UP groups staged peaceful protests outside major government landmarks. In December 1989, ACT UP London gathered at Westminster where a year earlier Margaret Thatcher’s government had passed Section 28.
By 1991, ten years after the first reported case of AIDS in Los Angeles, there had been little progress, and there was still no effective government policy. During this period, AIDs had become the biggest killer of men aged 25-44. In 1991, ACT UP London marched on Trafalgar Square, in a tireless effort to raise awareness and incite change. On World AIDS Day in 1992, with the government still taking little notice, ACT UP London marched on Downing Street in protest. This World AIDS day march became an annual event throughout the 1990s as the number of AIDs diagnosis in Britain continued to rise.
Members of ACT UP London, along with their American and French counterparts, have dedicated their lives to activism. While positive progress has undoubtedly been made since the 1990s, there is still a need to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS today. Having disbanded for a period of time, in 2014, ACT UP London was reformed to do just this, and continues to organise protests, marches and events today.
Scope and Content
Press cuttings and papers relating to ACT UP London, and the campaigns, protests and marches that the organised and were involved in during the 1980s and 1990s (1989-1993)
N.B. ACT UP London re-formed in 2014, material from the re-formed group can be found in AUL.