In honor of National Black AIDS Awareness Day, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and a team of advocates will be making their voices heard in Springfield, urging the extension of a crucial program that funds HIV prevention and treatment.
AFC representatives and community advocates will join legislators at a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 11 a.m., in Room 115 of the State Capitol, to support a bill that would extend the sunset date for the Quality of Life Fund’s “Red Ribbon Cash” lottery ticket expiring December 31, 2012.
Co-sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16th) and Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-7th), S.B. 2971 would extend the ticket sunset date to December 31, 2017.
“This epidemic is particularly hard on young black men and the African-American community, in general,” AFC’s Director of Government Relations Ramon Gardenhire said. “We simply cannot allow this lottery program, which provides critical funding for HIV treatment and services, to expire when we know it saves lives.”
Enacted in 2007, 100 percent of the proceeds from Red Ribbon Cash lottery tickets go to organizations throughout Illinois that provide treatment and prevention services to those populations most affected by HIV/AIDS — such as youth, African-Americans and Latinos, and the LGBT community.
The Quality of Life Fund is a self-generating revenue fund based on sales. Last year, the Red Ribbon Cash scratch-off game generated $1.4 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and care. This year, the lottery ticket will fund 14 community-based organizations across the state.
“Funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs is vitally important given the increasing prevalence and devastating nature of this disease in our communities,” Collins said.
Also in honor of Black AIDS Day, Rev. Doris Green, AFC’s director of corrections and community relationships, will say the opening prayer on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
And Rep. Thaddeus Jones will also be sponsoring a resolution in the House that will commemorate National Black AIDS Awareness Day and urge African Americans to get educated, tested and treated. Despite representing only 14% of the US population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections in that year, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Media contact: Ramon Gardenhire, 301-379-3024