ACT UP members place gravestone placards on front lawn of NIH building

Fighting Discrimination:

ACT UP protest at the National Institutes of Health, 1990
Courtesy Donna Binder

On May 21, 1990 AIDS activist group ACT UP “stormed the NIH” to protest the slow pace of research.


What does this image of global health mean to you?

Join the conversation was open for comment during the exhibition's installation at the National Library of Medicine from April 2008 to December 2010. Take a look at these photos that illustrate moments in global health history, and see what others had to say about them.

Read the comments left by previous visitors here.


I think that this image is extremely powerful because it shows that the people are fighting for a common cause. They are trying to raise awarness about a disease that has taken the lives of many, yet today the news is very slim. A disease that has affected so many people is staying hidden allowing for more deaths from not having enough information.

The photos mean alot to me, that HIV/AIDS victims are suffering alot on the to secure the medicines(ARVs) such that some patients are told to give money while its known the ARVs are provided in country free of charge. On the other hand, more awareness is needed to people that the ARVs are provided free and also awareness so that people could test for HIV/AIDS as earlier as possible so that they can start the medication earlier too.Thanks

Is it not the role of the federal government to fund research projects that may help to create medicines and treatment for its populace? We should not lose sight that cancer is by far the more deadly disease. Maybe this energy could have been better directed. AIDS research and funding far exceeds all other research funding to date. NIH shouldn't be the target of a protest; Capital Hill's wasteful allocations should be the target.

i was one of the member whom stormded!and yet in the year 2009<you hear little to nothing about aids in the media

I'm really happy to read everyone's comments. Everyone's comments thus far has been so positive and very similar to what I had to say. It's really inspirational to see young adults concerned about their health .

The above image is powerful and quite telling. It reveals desperation, hope, and will. These people, who have AIDS, know the years they have left to live are in scarce. Therefore,the guy kneeling down in the front, along with the rest of ACT UP, protest in order to fight for their lives and the lives of all people who suffer the same. The prevention and treatment of AIDS is lacking advancement, and as millions are diagnosed, the need only becomes greater.

its amazing how people potray everthing thats going on

Powerful image that shows how far we have come
in development againts aids

Very powerful image, I'm so glad that these people had the courage to actually come to the NIH and protest for their own beliefs. I think that this image paints a good picture for those who don't understand that over the past two decades nothing much medication wise has been done for the cure of AIDS- but alot of things have been done prevention wise!

I think the section on AIDS is very important because it is necessary that people understand the facts and dont thihnk that the illness is contagious. I really enjoyed the exihibit because it has given me more knowledge on the topic.

The exhibit on AIDS was highly idealized and teetered on the edge of almost propaganda-like. The credit for the discovery of AIDS is still an extremely controversial topic, which is why there has not been a nobel peace prize awarded to its discoverer- even if that truly happens to be a team. I am aware that this exhibit strives to educate on the affects of concerted health efforts, but I feel that it should be more honest and less glossy.

Health education from a young age starting even from the points of view of parents,caregivers, teachers, etc, is very important. We need young generations who are more adept and responsible at the prevention stage. Hopefully, there will be lesser demand for those anti-AIDS medicines years from now.

This is definitely a very powerful exhibit. I am glad to see so many standing up for what they believe, even though they had to go through so much for that. It gives me more faith in humanity--something I thought I had lost a long time ago.

I just visted this exhibit in Washinton DC and i have to say that it is very powerful. I would suggest that everyone attend. It is very obvious that these people were dedicated to the things they believed.


I do not know what my reaction to this image would have been if I had lived at the time of new research on AIDS was happening. I would definitely want the government to make it a priority to find a drug to help millions of people dying from a disease. Activists pictured here are fighting for a just cause to help the sick.

This imagesays ALOT about the economy's health

People need to learn patience. Medical research takes a long time... I mean would you want them to come up with something in a few minutes? Do you think it would really help? More people are going to die eventually. Face the facts. More people are born than the people that die though, so just get over it. Wait for the breakthrough.

I think that this picture has a lot of power. People should realize that there are many problems occuring nowadays. People should try to get involved with any type of organization that can help this cause and many others. Tell a friend and open their eyes to reality!!!


I would prefer a less confrontational signage and demonstration, as confrontion in general creates 'camps" and defensive reactions. I prefer the approach noted first by Flo Kennedy: She noted that if she was the man in charge with the big gun, she would rather see one lion than 500 mice.
That being said, I prefer meeting one on one with the powers that be in a non-confrontational 'share my story' way, repeatedly person by person until the audience in power hears the consequences of their actions or inactions as it affects real people that they have met and learned to care about. Highly effective and worked in 2006 in MA as we worked with legislators to protect marriage as a right for all couples.

Isn't this practice illegal? Well i'm not exactly sure what to say about this picture because it's so i don't know so i'm not really saying anything

The fact that we are able to speak openly about AIDS at all shows the immense progress we have made towards eradicating the disease for good. The more open we are as a society about the horrors of AIDS, the sooner we will find a cure. Activism and protest are the keys for change.

This image shows the power of peoples voices, it also shows the progression that we have made in this area

Research and clinical trials are paramount to the future wellbeing of humankind. Technology brings these trials to the fingertips of the world via communications.

This is a very powerful image and serves to remind us just how far we have come in the field of AIDS prevention and treatment.

This is a powerful image, but also a disturbing one - I'm left wondering how far we've actually come in almost 20 years. With AIDS now a global epidemic, the big pharmaceutical companies are still trying to turn a profit, and are resisting the sale of generic drugs to those who need them. How many more have died "from drug profiteers", as these activists put it?

The patient activism of ACTUP and others revolutionized the structure and nature of research financing and clinical trials. The picture marks a milestone in public health and biomedicine.