A brief history of our organization.


In the Spring of 2012, Harvard College Global Health and AIDS Coalition (HCGHAC) held a series of demonstrations and meetings with Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Our goal was to make Senator Brown a more vocal advocate for restoring funding to the massive cuts to global HIV/AIDS funding that have happened over the last couple of years. After about a dozen or so meetings/demonstrations, we were successful in getting Senator Brown to write a letter to the Appropriations Committee on the importance of funding both the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria – the two primary mechanisms that the U.S. uses to treat HIV/AIDS and various infectious disease abroad. This was a big victory for HAC, as getting this type of support from a U.S. Senator is not easy and is *extremely* important for the continued effectiveness of these types of policies!


In the Fall of 2011, the HCGHAC teamed up with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) to put pressure on the pharmaceutical company Merck to enter into negotiations with the Medicines Patent Pool. When a pharmaceutical company holds an exclusive patent, no other company can produce the drug at a lower (and more affordable) cost. Competition from generic production benefits the patients by pushing down the cost on both ends, thus improving overall access.  The Medicines Patent Pool offers a mechanism for achieving just that in developing countries, and patent holders can voluntarily submit their patents to the pool. Through a series of demonstrations and meetings with top administrators of Merck, we were able to generate a consciousness around the Medicines Patent Pool. Merck has still refused to enter into negotiations, and we will be continuing to meet with them in 2012 in order to put additional pressure.

On December 1st, World AIDS Day, the Obama administration announces that it will increase the U.S. treatment target, with a new goal of treating 6 million people with HIV/AIDS by 2013 – an increase from their previous goal of treating 4 million people by 2013. AIDS Activists are credited as being one of the key factors in the push for this change.


In response to the flat-lining and budget cuts of life-saving treatment and prevention programs for HIV/AIDS, HCGHAC collabored with national AIDS activist groups last year to demand that our policymakers live up to their promises.  Through a series of different actions and protests, we were effectively able to have our voices heard, generating press in the New York Times.


In one of the most successful semesters of global health advocacy at Harvard, HCGHAC and UAEM (Universities Allied for Essential Medicines) demanded that the Harvard administration change its medical research licensing policy in the Say Yes to Drugs Campaign.

The Harvard Office of Technology Development signs the Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technologies, and credits Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and the Harvard Global Health and AIDS Coalition for making this push. This document  in order was created and signed to ensure that Harvard researchers’ medical innovations benefit people throughout the world.

On both World AIDS Day and April Fools’ Day, HCGHAC members rallied and met with representatives of Senator John Kerry to demand action on global HIV.  The staffers gave us a warm reception and made positive commitments, but the work is ahead to hold them to these promises.


Advocacy campaign urging for open nomination process for the next US Global AIDS Coordinator.

HCGHAC/HIGH/DGHSM Critical Issues in Global Health Speaker Series to supplement Anthropology 1825, taught by Professors Paul Farmer, Jim Kim, and Arthur Kleinman. Featured speakers include:

  • Stephen Lewis (Co-director of AIDS-Free World,Former United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and Deputy Director of UNICEF)
  • Ambassador Mark R. Dybul (United States Global AIDS Coordinator)
  • Agnes Binagwaho (Executive Secretary of Rwanda’s National AIDS Control Commission)

UAEM organizes Licensing Stakeholder Meeting to advance Harvard’s discussions on university licensing policies.

“Missing Medicines 2: Harvard’s Response to the Challenge of Global Neglected Disease” featuring Provost Steve Hyman, Professors Jon Clardy, Lisa Hirschorn, Jose Trevejo, Bruce Walker, Rebecca Weintaub, and Dyann Wirth, to explore opportunities for change in Harvard policies and institutions in basic science, translation, and delivery of medicines and technologies for neglected tropical diseases.

“Petition to Action in Global Health at Harvard” launched, calling for a stronger, more collaborative Harvard Initiative for Global Health, and increased funding for research on neglected tropical diseases and health delivery. Over 2000 undergraduate signatures collected, endorsed by certain faculty.

2 Summer Initiative institutionalized at the DGHSM/FXB Center.


HAC (Harvard AIDS Coalition) changes its name to Harvard College Global Health and AIDS Coalition (HCGHAC) to reflect the larger global health scope of its efforts.

Boston Living Center Initiative founded to foster express service relationship between HCGHAC volunteers and meal serving program.

Over 30 Harvard students attend Abbot Labs Protest HQ in Worcester, MA to oppose Abbot’s withdrawal of medicines off the market in Thailand in response to the government’s compulsory license for Kaletra, an antiretroviral HIV medicine.

“Missing Medicines 1: Making University Drugs Accessible to the Global Poor” featuring Dr. Jim Kim, who speaks on the potential for Harvard to increase access to life-saving medicines through licensing solutions.

“Step it Up” campaign, in collaboration with the Black Men’s Forum and the South Asian Men’s Collective (SAMC). The awareness/fundraising effort includes: Speaking event with Dr. Paul Farmer and Ira Magaziner (Chair of Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative), which attracts over 600 students; Dance in Annenberg that attracts over 1000 students and raises over $6000 for Partners in Health and the Treatment Action Campaign. Check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9AdLhTYYB4

Harvard hosts Annual UAEM Conference, which attracts over 200 students from across the US and Canada.

2 Summer Initiative is launched with aim of providing undergraduates with a meaningful way to engage in global health work overseas.


Pharmacy Access Political Advocacy Campaign launched to pressure Massachusetts state government to pass legislation that will allow pharmacies to sell needles and syringes without prescription. Legislation passed in June 2006.

Students Promoting Equity through Aid and Research (SPEAR) started, featuring 3 parts: 1) Licensing, to build on efforts of Harvard UAEM chapter; 2) Neglected Diseases, to increase research for diseases neglected by global research community; 3) Aid, to examine whether Harvard could cut overhead costs from $100 million PEPFAR grant given to Harvard.

Group of HAC-ers join Novartis Protest at office in Cambridge, pressuring for generic production to increase access to Novartis intellectual property.

Harvard Chapter of Grassroots Soccer launched, to promote AIDS awareness and to raise money for Grassroots’ campaigns in Africa.

“Voices from the Local Community” speaker event featuring HIV-positive man from Boston.

FaceAIDS Film Event, which features several leading AIDS films and documentaries. Paves the way for donation of largest HIV film archive of over 500 hours of footage to Harvard.

Professor Lincoln Chen (WHO Special Envoy for Human Resources and Health) speaks on global health challenges. Attracts ~50 students.


Professor Paul Farmer becomes a “member” of HAC, and attends three meetings in 2005, speaking about HIV/AIDS in Haiti and the global health movement.

Professor Arachu Castro gives HAC presentation on her work on HIV in Cuba, and on her work with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The Assistant Director of Cuban AIDS Program gives presentation at HAC on Cuban models of HIV prevention, treatment, and care.

Textbooks Initiative is founded after HAC-ers witness a lack of up-to-date medical information in rural Rwanda.

Unite Against AIDS Conference on HIV/AIDS in Africa and the African Diaspora, in collaboration with the Black Men’s Forum and Black Student Association. The conference attracts over 500 students.

Political Advocacy Campaign meets with health advisors for Massachusetts senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy about the upcoming reauthorization of Global Fund.

Infant Formula Initiative started to conduct a market analysis of the potential for infant formula as a scalable prevention technique, in collaboration with the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI).


HAC is a significant presence at the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, advocating for generic production of antiretroviral drugs.

Harvard UAEM chapter founded and Licensing Initiative is born.

Cambridge Cares about AIDS Initiative founded to increase opportunities for Harvard students interested in direct service at AIDS service organizations.

Harvard hosts the North East region SGAC conference.


Political Advocacy targets HIV prevention research, especially encouraging increased funding for evidence based prevention studies instead of speculative or value-loaded prevention ideology.


Political Advocacy efforts take up access to generic HIV drugs as a key platform, meeting with policymakers and advocating at political events to increase recognition and commitments to the potential of increasing access to HIV treatment in the developing world. Bird-dogging emerges a key advocacy method.

HAC begins a long history of call-ins for various health topics including global AIDS funding, generic production, and evidence based prevention policies


The Harvard AIDS Coalition (HAC) is founded by a group of committed activists who see a gap in the global HIV/AIDS advocacy movement in presenting a role for students.

World AIDS Day Initiative launched, with the goal of raising awareness on the Harvard campus and in the greater Cambridge community.

The Political Advocacy Initiative is founded with an early focus on increasing global AIDS funding.

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