ACT UP or the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power was founded in 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York. Both gay and straight persons came together to launch a new type of emboldened activism “united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis.” ACT UP chapters quickly sprung up around the country.
In December 1990, ACT UP took on CDC when it staged a protest outside of the agency’s headquarters. The key issue: expansion of the case definition of AIDS to include infections specific to women and others. After the CDC protest in Atlanta, ACT UP relentlessly continued its actions, including sending 20,000 graphic postcards to Dr. James Curran, CDC’s HIV/AIDS Task Force Director. In 1993, once the data supported the change, CDC did expand the case definition of AIDS to reflect the fuller spectrum of the disease.