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AIDS activists invade New York Senate campaign offices

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Dozens of AIDS activists demonstrated simultaneously Wednesday at the campaign offices of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio to protest the issue's low profile in the Senate campaign in New York, police said.

Four activists ran into each candidate's campaign office, handcuffed themselves to file cabinets and called news outlets Wednesday. All eight were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest, police said.

AIDS graphic
 

Several dozen activists demonstrated outside each candidate's building entrance, shouting slogans such as "shame, shame," or "Hillary talks about it, AIDS won't wait." They demanded federal funding for needle exchanges and housing for homeless people living with the condition.

Clinton is the Democratic nominee to replace longtime Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who is retiring after this year. Lazio, a four-term congressman from Long Island, is the Republican nominee.

The protest was organized by Housing Works, a non-profit organization that provides services to people in need, including housing for the homeless and needle exchange programs for HIV-infected people. Demonstrators said they were seeking more money to fight the disease in minority communities, which now account for 80 percent of AIDS cases in New York state.

"We've been trying for months both with the Lazio campaign and the Hillary Clinton campaign to get them speak specifically about AIDS, and we've heard nothing publicly from either candidate," Norbert Sinski, a Catholic priest and supervisor at Housing Works, said in an interview with CNN.

"We demand more money, more money for housing," Sinski said. "We've got persons with AIDS living on the streets of New York. (The candidates) are acting, and most of the country is acting, as if the epidemic was over. It is hardly over."

 
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