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15 ways we're changing the HIV epidemic in 2015

A new year means new challenges — and new opportunities to make a positive impact on the HIV epidemic. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) team has a number of new initiatives planned for 2015, and here are 15 highlights:

 

15. Prioritizing the health of women and transgender women of color

Launching in 2015, Project Elevate will build innovative HIV and STI prevention programs for women and transgender women in Chicago, based on the leadership of a peer-led committee.

 

14. Helping more Mexican men get access to testing and care

AFC and Erie Family Health Center’s “Salud Y Orgullo Mexicano” campaign will continue to build bridges between Mexican men in Chicago and prevention and testing resources through its lotería-style ad campaigns.

 

13. Expanding availability of PrEP in Illinois and the U.S.

Big changes are in store for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Illinois in 2015, and AFC and the Chicago PrEP Working Group will be leading efforts to increase awareness of and access to this game-changing HIV prevention method through an array of advocacy, provider trainings and community education initiatives. Visit My PrEP Experience to learn more about PrEP.

 

12. Offering HIV-vulnerable youth housing in Humboldt Park

A new partnership with Vida/SIDA will soon make beds available for an often-overlooked segment of Chicago’s youth homeless community — those who are HIV-positive.

 

11. Increasing pregnancy planning resources for HIV-positive couples in the Midwest

AFC’s new Midwest HIV Prevention and Pregnancy Planning Initiative aims to reduce new HIV infection rates among HIV-vulnerable women and increase pregnancy planning resources for HIV-positive patients and HIV-negative patients with HIV-positive partners. This three-year project aims to equip 1,900 providers in the Midwest with toolkits, trainings and more.

 

10. Building a bridge for HIV-positive people as they emerge from jail or prison

AFC and citywide partners will continue to serve HIV-positive people leaving the Illinois corrections system and returning home through its Corrections Case Management program.

 

9. Celebrating the art of dance while raising awareness for HIV

A hallmark of Chicago’s dance and HIV/AIDS advocacy communities, Dance for Life Chicago returns to the stage on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. This annual dance program brings acclaimed companies together to raise money for HIV/AIDS organizations. 

 

8. Supporting 18 innovative HIV testing and support projects through Challenge Grants

This year, 18 HIV/AIDS organizations in Chicago will embark on new projects thanks to a combined $220,000 grant through AFC’s Challenge Grants awards.

 

7. Honoring 30 years of action in the fight against HIV at May 16 gala

To honor AFC’s three decades of action in the HIV/AIDS fight, please join us at our 30th Year Gala on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at the Chicago Hilton. Acclaimed actress Amy Landecker (Transparent) will emcee the night of dinner and dancing.

 

6. Navigating the new health care insurance landscape for thousands of Chicagoans

The Affordable Care Act offers new ways for millions of Americans to get health insurance, and AFC helps people enroll in Illinois marketplace plans. At the national level, HIVHealthReform.org continues to offer guidance on connecting the HIV community to quality insurance coverage. Contact AFC to find out how to get covered.

 

5. Improving access to care and ARVs

Helping the estimated 43,000 people living with HIV in Illinois stay connected to health care isn’t just important for their own health — it also helps reduce the risk of new HIV infections. AFC is committed to helping HIV-positive people reduce their viral loads through consistent use of antiretroviral (ARV) medications to prevent new HIV infections.

 

4. Screening people across the state for HIV, HCV and other STIs

With thousands of Illinoisans receiving tests for HIV, Hepatitis C (HCV) and other sexually transmitted infections in 2014, AFC will offer its pioneering testing programs throughout 2015. 

 

3. Collaborating with legislators in Springfield to maintain robust HIV funding in Illinois

With a new governor in Springfield and new challenges across the state, AFC has new opportunities to ensure that people living with and vulnerable to HIV have the support they need from their legislators through its policy initiatives. 

 

2. Raising awareness of social and economic issues that complicate the fight against HIV

The modern HIV epidemic tells the story of larger social and economic factors that disproportionately impact gay and bisexual men, transgender people, people of color and youth. HIV Prevention Justice Alliance has a plan to change this story in 2015; click here to read it.

 

1. Growing our community of advocates — like you! — to raise awareness and end stigma

Now more than ever, AFC and its network of partner organizations has the opportunity to end the HIV epidemic and provide better care to people living with the virus. But without your support, the momentum behind this fight will lose steam — and the work we have done together to get to this point will have been in vain. Make a donation today to kickstart AFC’s 30th year and make good use of this unprecedented moment in the HIV/AIDS movement.

Categorized under Inside Story.