ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, which started in the USA in 1987, had grown to be a significant movement by 1990. On ACT UP New York's homepage, which is still active in 2006, it states "ACT UP is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis" (, 2006).

ACT UP is famous for its political actions that attack the medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry. In 1988 ACT UP, with over 1500 people from all over the USA, shut down the operation of the Food and Drug Administration to demand that drug companies be allowed to distribute experimental drugs to AIDS patients while these drugs were still on experimental trial. In 1989 ACT UP broke into the opening ceremony of the V International Conference on AIDS in Montreal "demanding that the scientific community recognise the importance of the role people with HIV infection are playing in combating AIDS" (Eibhlyn 1990, 10). ACT UP has attacked the way science and the pharmaceutical industry conduct research, set up trials and distribute medicine. Researchers feared the effect of ACT UP for long-term research, which needs classical trials, in their opinion. The time taken from the moment of invention to the market for an average drug was over 10 years at the time (Roozendaal 1990). ACT UP members felt they did not have the time to wait because so many people were becoming infected so quickly, and that other ways of setting up trials and other methods of finding medicines had to be used. Larry Kramernote 143, a writer who was one of the founders of ACT UP, is quoted in the international newspaper the 'International Herald Tribune' on 12 March 1990: "If we do not get these drugs, you will see an uprising the like of which you have never seen before since the Vietnam War in this country. We will sabotage all of your Phase II studies. (..) Our chemists will duplicate your formulas" (Kolata 1990, 3). Many artists and writers supported ACT UP. Among them were Susan Sontagnote 144 , Douglas Crimpnote 145 , Jenny Holzer and Keith Haring.note 146

Because the homosexual community note 147 was well organized and well educated it was capable of understanding and critiquing the way science operates. "There was never a politically savvy group of sick people before", stated George Annas, the director of the Law, Medicine and Ethics Program at the Boston University School of Public Health in the same article in the International Herald Tribune (Kolata 1990, 3). Unlike people with cancer, for example, ACT UP has been very effective because they share more than just their illness. ACT UP was a movement in 1990 that was fighting for the idea that "AIDS is not just a medical issue. If it were, we would not be facing mandatory testing, discrimination based on antibody status, or soaring anti-gay violence." (Eibhlyn 1990, 9). In 2006 ACT UP is still fighting, organizing meetings and teaching civil disobedience in the fight against AIDS (