One of eight HIV/AIDS protest caravans traveling to Oxford, Mississippi to meet at the site of the first presidential debate is scheduled to cross the Brooklyn bridge and enter New York City today. Hundreds of protesters are expected to join the caravan as it makes its way to city hall, where leaders say they plan to protest the nation's lack of a comprehensive strategy to end AIDS.

The event, called Stand Against AIDS, is part of a larger demonstration taking place around the country that started on September 13th, when eight regional protest caravans began making their way to Oxford, Mississippi, the site of the first presidential debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

The Campaign to End AIDS, a coalition of civil rights and religious organizations, is looking for pledges from both presidential hopefuls to create a national plan to end AIDS.

“We have no national AIDS strategy plan,” said Campaign to End AIDS Spokeswoman Alice Leeds. “This country has supported and given money to countries all over the world to establish their own national AIDS plan, but we have none of our own.”

A 172 mile march from Jackson, Mississippi to Oxford in ten days features African-American civil rights leader James Meredith. Meredith is best know for a 1966 Memphis-to-Jackson march to protest racism – March Against Fear – where he was to walk alone for 220 miles, but was injured by a sniper shot. Martin Luther King and other prominent leaders marched in his place, and as the news spread, so did the protest; the crowd had grown to 15,000 when it arrived at Jackson.

Meredith's march will converge with the caravans at Oxford on the 23rd.

Today's New York City Hall event will also highlight dramatic HIV/AIDS budget cuts in the city at a time when new CDC statistics show that New York City's HIV infection rate is three times the national average.

New York City organizations representing various HIV/AIDS affected groups plan on participating at the event, including Housing Works, Bailey House, Gay Men's Health Crisis, and New York City AIDS Housing Network.

The Campaign to End AIDS says it will present Senators Obama and McCain with information it is gathering on what a national plan to end AIDS might look like.

“We've got to push the envelope, we got to make sure that people with HIV/AIDS are heard,” Housing Works VP of National Advocacy and Organizing Christine Campbell told On Top Magazine. “We believe we can end this thing. We believe what we are missing is the political will to make it happen.”

On the net: The Campaign to End AIDS website