WASHINGTON – More than 1,000 protesters chanting “pills cost pennies, greed costs lives” marched to the steps of the Capitol here April 10 to demand that Congress approve $750 million now and $2.5 billion next year for the U.N. Global AIDS Fund.

It was billed as the “Day of Hope Rally – Fighting the Global AIDS Pandemic.” The demonstrators, members of Philadelphia and New York ACT UP, Health GAP, Jubilee USA Network and other HIV/AIDS groups, cheered as actor Danny Glover assailed the Bush administration and Congress for its meager support of the U.N. project to combat AIDS.

“The world is facing the worst health crisis in history,” Glover said. “Twenty million people have already died of AIDS. Forty million people around the world are living with AIDS.”

Glover continued, “Last year, AIDS killed three million. Imagine the World Trade Center collapsing twice a day, every day. That’s how many people die from AIDS. This catastrophe is horrifying yet the human toll has not moved the United States. What will it take? We are demanding that there be $750 million – a mere pittance – now and $2.5 billion next year, still a pittance.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), co-sponsor with Rep. Jim Leech (R-Iowa) of the bill to provde $750 million in U.S. funding for the U.N. Global AIDS Fund, told the crowd that 15,000 people die each day from AIDS, TB and malaria. “We must ensure that all people have access to life-saving medicines,” Lee said. “We know how to treat these diseases. We know how to stop transmission. We must figh death and dieases with the same intensity that we fight terrorism.”

Leech said, “There is no reason whatsoever that we cannot provide the funds needed. There is no crisis greater than AIDS.”