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Activists Protest HIV Program Cuts by Kerry’s Home

BOSTON (AP) — Activists set up a mock Thanksgiving meal outside Sen. John Kerry’s home in Boston to protest the possible inclusion of cuts to AIDS funding during “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

The fiscal cliff is a package of tax cuts and spending increases scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, unless lawmakers agree and act on different measures.

About 20 members of the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, or ACT UP, arranged a table and chairs outside Kerry’s Beacon Hill residence Wednesday. They put pill bottles on plates instead of food, saying they want Kerry to fight to fully fund AIDS programs during the negotiations.

The group got curious glances from neighbors and nearby utility workers while chanting refrains such as “Fund health and not defense,” and holding signs including one that said: “Don’t be a turkey … End AIDS.”

No one came out of the senator’s house, but protesters said they’ve been in touch with Kerry’s office and hope to have a face-to-face meeting with him soon.

“We have reason to believe he’s on our side but we’re hoping to see action and leadership. … Action that would mean lives saved,” said Marguerite Basilico, a Harvard Medical School student.

Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth said later that the activists are “preaching to the converted,” and that Kerry wrote the Senate’s first global AIDS bill.

She said the senator wouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of AIDS patients, and that he is fighting to raise tax revenue from the wealthiest Americans.

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