Prisoners’ Rights & Grassroots Mobilization: Lessons in AIDS Organizing from Anne Marie DiCenso & Gary Kinsman

On October 17th 2014, a one-day dialogue Where Do We Go From Here? AIDS Organizing, Services, Bureaucracy & the State was convened in Toronto by Alex McClelland and Nicole Greenspan in the hopes to begin a dialogue about the questions we had about the current organization of the response to HIV, and concerns about what the consequences of new surveillance technologies, financial austerity, as well as upcoming funding and policy changes – such as integration – might mean to the future of the response to HIV.


The event was opened by keynote talks from Gary Kinsman, AIDS Activist History Project, and Anne Marie DiCenso, Prisoners’ HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN).  Anne Marie and Gary discussed how AIDS organizing has changed over time and provided historical context for the days discussions with a focus on activism and prisoners rights organizing. Their talks and power point presetnations are at:

The videos will be captioned for accessibility in the near future.

Anne Marie DiCenso: Linking Community Organizing, People Living with HIV & the Prison Industrial Complex


Over the last 22 years Anne Marie has worked on issues related to people in prison in Canada. Her work has been driven from a harm reduction and anti-oppression framework and has had a strong focus on women, street involved people and people living with HIV & HCV. Anne Marie has been working for PASAN (Prisoners’ HIV/AIDS Support Action Network), for 19 years and has been their Executive Director for over 11 years.

Anne Marie has presented to the Canadian Human Rights Commission on Women in Prison, at workshops and forums on Criminalization of HIV Non-Discloser and on CBC Radio on Harm Reduction and HIV/AIDS. Anne Marie has a Masters Degree in Social Work and has also written many articles and opinion pieces on HIV/AIDS and prisons. She is the co-author of the study “Unlocking Our Futures: A National Study on Women, prisons, HIV and Hepatitis C (2003) and has worked on preserving the human rights of people in prison for many years. Anne Marie has serviced on the Board of Directors for HALCO (HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario) and of APAA (Africans in Partnership Against AIDS).

Gary Kinsman: Resisting State & Professional Management of AIDS Organizations, Memories of AIDS Organizing in ‘Canada’ 1983-1990 


Gary Kinsman is a long-time queer liberation, AIDS, anti-poverty and anti-capitalist activist. He has been involved in the AIDS Committee Of Toronto, AIDS ACTION NOW!, the Newfoundland AIDS Association the Valley AIDS Concern Group and is currently involved in the AIDS Activist History Project. He is the author of The Regulation of Desire, co-author (with Patrizia Gentile) of The Canadian War on Queer, and editor of Whose National Security?, and Sociology for Changing the World.  He is also the author of “Managing AIDS Organizing” and “‘Responsibility’ as a strategy of governance: Regulating people with AIDS and Lesbians and Gay Men in Ontario.” He has a website called Radical Noise. He recently retired from teaching sociology at Laurentian University on the territories of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek nation.

The flyer above 1989 is from the AIDS ACTION NOW! demonstration that led to the formation of PASAN. Find more past AIDS activist history at the AIDS Activist History Project.