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HIV/AIDS support from the ground up at Advocacy Days event in Springfield PDF Print
Thursday, April 17, 2014

Before she met with State Representative La Shawn Ford at the Illinois state capitol building, Jacalyn Boyd had never had much interaction with her elected officials. But on April 9, Boyd, a peer navigator on the Austin Health Center of Cook County CBC Initiative in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, joined more than 100 advocates to meet with their elected officials and advocate for their support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

This daylong event is part of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s Advocacy Days program, which equips community advocates with the knowledge and skills to meet with their state representatives and ask for their support for statewide services for the estimated 41,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois.

BoydShe and two other peer navigators from the CBC Initiative rode a packed bus from Chicago down to Springfield to speak with elected officials about two important issues: protecting HIV/AIDS funding from a possible $4 million budget cut and introducing a “fair tax” in Illinois, which would replace the “flat tax” currently written into the state constitution.

“I’m going to Springfield to ask for support for those living with HIV,” said Boyd. “I have friends who have died from HIV, and some who are still living with this disease. This problem needs help from people in our state government.”

After attending a training session led by AFC’s policy team, the advocates were grouped based on their elected officials and sent with a leader to the capitol building.

Boyd’s state representative, La Shawn Ford (8th District), was in the House chambers that afternoon. With help from AFC’s Interim President/CEO John Peller and group leader from the Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy (IL ASAP), Boyd and her group sent a card to Ford at “the rail,” a public area just outside of the House chambers where representatives will emerge to meet with selected lobbyists and other visitors. Their distinctive green t-shirts helped them stand out amid the sea of suits and ties.

Boyd prepared her statements for Rep. Ford and practiced them, with support from her group of advocates.

When Rep. Ford emerged from the chambers and called Boyd’s name, she approached the rail. Ford walked around the barrier and joined the group of advocates, so he could better hear and respond to Boyd’s call for a fair tax initiative and protection for HIV/AIDS support in the state budget. Ford affirmed his commitment to those issues, and then shook hands with the group and posed for photos.

“I had to do what I had to do,” said Boyd about the experience. “After it was over, though, I no longer had stage fright!”

After each group attempted to meet with their elected officials (often leaving letters for those senators and representatives in their offices), they came back together in a packed conference room. The level of excitement was high, as advocates shared their experiences with one another before remarks were made by Rep. Greg Harris (13th District), Rep. Rita Mayfield (60th District), and Senator Heather Steans (7th District).

AFC will host another Advocacy Days event on May 14. Click here to register.

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Illinois HIV Care Connect: Reaching Out to Changing HIV-Positive Population PDF Print
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Improved prognoses, but many still at-risk for infection

Illinois HIV Care Connect is taking major strides to reach out to a changing HIV-positive population benefiting from improved prognoses due to advances in treatment and access to care. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago is one of seven lead agencies coordinating the services provided through the program, which is funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and federal grants.

“Many people with HIV are on the go, living full, busy lives in good health,” said Tom Hughes, executive director of the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA), which administers Illinois HIV Care Connect. “There’s been quite a change since the epidemic began.”

Their good health, however, is dependent on receiving lifelong treatment; otherwise, HIV may lead to serious complications or AIDS. In addition, preventing HIV infection remains a challenge, especially among those who engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex or needle sharing and by those who are infected but do not know it. About 25 percent of HIV-positive individuals – about 9,000 of the 36,000 HIV-positive people in Illinois – do not know they are HIV-positive, according to state health experts.

The 20-34 age group has the highest number of HIV diagnoses in the United States, and Hispanics account for about 20 percent of the nation’s new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To more effectively reach these demographics, Illinois HIV Care Connect recently launched a Spanish-language Web site, mobile Web sites in English and Spanish, and social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Social media is especially popular among young people, who also prefer to access the Internet via mobile devices.

Communicating through multiple channels has helped Illinois HIV Care Connect to create enhanced awareness of the medical case management, health care, and support services it provides to people living with HIV. New visitors to increased by 38 percent during 2013. Visitors to the Web site can find information about the services the program provides, as well as information about the Illinois AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), Continuation of Health Insurance Coverage (CHIC) Program and other services.

You can follow, like or join Illinois HIV Care Connect at the following social media pages:

“This effort is all about extending HIV prevention and treatment across Illinois,” said Hughes. “By preventing HIV and helping those living with HIV find early and ongoing treatment, we can improve health outcomes and reduce medical costs.”

World AIDS Day in Chicago PDF Print
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

World AIDS Day is December 1!

Here are a few important events going on in Chicago to honor the occasion.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to celebrate the gains made in ending the epidemic, embrace those living with HIV/AIDS, and commemorate those who have died from complications with AIDS.

It’s also an occasion for HIV testing, advocacy, education, and celebration.

If you’re in the Chicago area, consider attending these World AIDS Day events!

Black Friday Prevention Health Ball

Enjoy the Black Friday Prevention Health Ball on Friday, November 29, at the Grand Ballroom, 6351 S. Cottage Grove, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The event is free, there will be hourly raffles, and attendees will have an opportunity to participate in free HIV and hepatitis C testing. Funded by the Chicago Department of Public Health, the ball is sponsored, in part, by AFC.

The Normal Heart

The Windy City is welcoming Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning play, The Normal Heart, to TimeLine Theatre Company, and AFC is selling tickets for Sunday, December 1. It’s a drama about the AIDS movement in the early 1980s, before doctors even had a name for this disease.

Proceeds will benefit AFC—but only if you reserve your seat through AFC. Click here to purchase your tickets today!

We also encourage you to visit our Inside Story blog to learn more about the play.

Dallas Buyers Club

Go to the movies! Watch Dallas Buyers Club, a film about Texan Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey), who is diagnosed with HIV and fights to save his life by searching for alternative treatments.

Before you go, though, check out this review about the movie and its importance this World AIDS Day.

Free HIV Testing on the Loop

AFC and many of its partners will offer free, confidential HIV testing on Sunday, December 1 and Monday, December 2 at 15 Walgreens locations through Chicago:

3405 S. King Drive
7410 N. Clark Street
4101 1st Avenue
5874 S. Archer Avenue
11 E. 75th Street
1903 Calumet Avenue
5625 N. Ridge Avenue
3301 Glenview Road
400 W. 81st Avenue
10 N. Milwaukee Avenue
5932 W. Cermak Road
8628 S. Cottage Grove
2924 E. 92nd Street
5435 S. Kedzie Avenue
21 Rand Road
5730 Dempster Street
4445 S. Calumet Avenue
28 W. 104 Warrenville Road
4740 W. 95th Street
522 Torrence Avenue
4720 N. Marine Drive

Reaffirm Your Commitment to the Denver Principles

The Denver Principles are, in essence, the Bill of Rights for people living with HIV. They changed our health care system and continue to have a positive, profound impact on our community.

AFC is marking World AIDS Day by reaffirming our commitment to the Denver Principles, and we encourage you to do the same. Learn more through this short blog post by David Ernesto Munar, AFC’s CEO/President.

Legends Lunch All Star Awards

TransActions presents the Legends Lunch All Star Awards, a World AIDS Day Ceremony in association with the Chicago Department of Public Health on Sunday, December 1, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. For more information, contact Joy Morris at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Vida/Sida Vigil and Gala

Also on Sunday, December 1, Vida/Sida will hold a vigil in commemoration of World AIDS Day from 3:00 to 3:45 p.m. at Casita de Don Pedro, 2625 W. Division Street.

Afterward, Vida/Sida will host its 25th Anniversary Dinner and Gala from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, 3015 W. Division Street. Among those honored will be Carmen Velazquez, Executive Director of Alivio Medical Center; Dora Garcia, Associate Executive Director of Alivio Medical Center; state Sen. William Delgado; state Sen. Iris Martinez; state Rep. Cynthia Soto; state Rep. Maria Antonia Berrios; and state Rep. Luis Arreyo.

World of Chocolate

This is Chicago's most sumptuous World AIDS Day event! World of Chocolate is a gala benefit for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. The event is a celebration of possibilities in both the confectionary kitchen and the arena of global health.

Join us on Friday, December 6, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Great Hall in Chicago Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Avenue. Tickets are available for $150 at the door.

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About Inside Story

Do you ever feel there are critical advances in HIV/AIDS prevention that aren't being properly covered in the mainstream media? Or that there are complex HIV/AIDS-related healthcare and funding issues not being clearly explained? Or that there are powerful HIV/AIDS stories here in Chicago just waiting for someone to tell them?
We feel that way, too!

At the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), we’re committed to changing the story of HIV/AIDS. Inside Story aims to take you inside that story, to give you an intimate look at how AFC, and other Chicago and national organizations, are fighting HIV/AIDS through medical, housing and support services; cutting-edge research into prevention and treatment methods; and advocacy for stronger HIV-AIDS public policy from legislators.

If you have questions or blog ideas, please contact Alexandra Chwalik, AFC's Online Outreach & Education Coordinator, at


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