On 10 April 1990, more than 80 people met to form a Sydney ACT UP chapter, based on the group founded by Larry Kramer in the United States. A number of people involved had earlier attended an emergency drug meeting that had been called by People Living With AIDS (PLWA) NSW to discuss a lack of treatment and urge the formation of ACT UP. Members of other marginalised groups, including sex workers, were also part of this activism.
The first Sydney ACT UP protest involved more than 50 members who demonstrated at the federal health department, targeting the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, which was responsible for drug licensing and for AZT only being available for people with CD4 counts of 200 or fewer.
ACT UP was highly active across Australia in the early 1990s, with protests, actions and zaps. ACT UP also drew attention to other issues, such as the treatment in the media of people living with HIV and AIDS.
By 1993 it became clear that the type of activism practised by ACT UP was in decline. Emotional exhaustion had taken atoll on many members. Others had been affected by ill-health or had died. The 1991 Baume Report had appeared to address many of the concerns ACT UP held about the approvals process and access to medication for people living with HIV.