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What you need to know about Getting to Zero in Illinois

September 20, 2017

By Sara Semelka  Illinois is making dramatic progress against HIV  New HIV cases have dropped by 28% from 2006 to 2015. Mother-to-child HIV transmission is nearly eliminated. In Chicago, there were fewer than 1,000 cases a year. Because of this, it’s possible to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Illinois.   Illinois has what it takes.  With health...
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After homework, a young fundraiser fights for her communities

September 15, 2017

By Ashley Brown  Lillian Weir is a natural activist, whose strong beliefs and voice rise up to fight for what is right. For years she has marched in the Chicago Pride Parade, right in the thick of the crowd, waiving a flag and dancing in support of the rights of marginalized communities nationwide. She’s also loaned her innate activism to the Chicago Teacher’s Union,...
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Five ways to take control of your love life

September 13, 2017

by Nick Villarreal and Beto Soberanis  It’s impossible to know everything about sex. But learning to talk about sex and navigate HIV helps you take the reins of your sex life and your sexual health. Take a look at these ways to take control of your sex life.  1. Communicate with your partner. It’s the sexiest thing you can do.  It can be pretty...
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How much can your public health knowledge expand in 5 days?

September 7, 2017

Although most universities and schools were closed in August, 11 public health professionals didn’t let that stop them from cultivating their skills and building networks. They attended the ninth annual Public Health Boot Camp, an intensive one-week educational program provided by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and the Institute of Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), the nexus for...
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Advocacy organizations celebrate results as UnitedHealthcare swiftly reverses discriminatory PrEP practices

August 8, 2017

Fourteen health and social justice organizations from across the U.S. wish to celebrate the people-powered effort behind UnitedHealthcare responding so swiftly to demands that they improve access to the HIV drug Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medical intervention that prevents HIV infection. On Friday, Aug. 4, UnitedHealthcare received a joint letter from this coalition objecting...
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United Healthcare discriminates against vulnerable populations by denying PrEP access

August 4, 2017

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago and partners demand United Healthcare halt their practices and policies that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Earlier this year, United Health Care began to send members letters denying access to Truvada prescribed for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP. The reason for denial? According to the letter, shown in full below or click here to view ,...
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Soaring into stability with people who care

August 3, 2017

by Raven Feagins Millions of people across the country are unable to work most jobs and earn an income due to disability or other challenges. For these folks, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are available to help supplement, but the application process is known for being nearly impossible to navigate. This inspired the creation of the...
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Trump's shadow lingers over affordable health care

July 26, 2017

AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) strongly condemns the actions taken by a majority of Senate Republicans’ vote to advance a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has provided access to comprehensive health care coverage for nearly 24 million Americans. If signed into law by President Trump without a proper replacement, over 1.2 million Illinoisans would lose their...
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HIV, hepatitis C and the hope for health equity

July 25, 2017

by Ashley Brown   Peter McLoyd doesn’t care what you think of him. From addiction to advocacy, his story has been defined by overcoming obstacles. From substance abuse to stigma to health inequity, McLoyd has seen it all. At 64, his long and winding road has led him to his current role as the Consumer Development and Advocacy Coordinator at the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center...
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Beyond a campaign, a testing program that elevates young women of color

July 17, 2017

By Raven Feagins "Our Girls Matter." That’s the tagline for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC)'s  Project Elevate . The marketing pieces -- developed for young cisgender (cis) and transgender (trans) women of color, by young cisgender and transgender women of color -- feature photos of young women, with inviting,...
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By Ashley Brown 

 

Lillian Weir is a natural activist, whose strong beliefs and voice rise up to fight for what is right. For years she has marched in the Chicago Pride 

Parade, right in the thick of the crowd, waiving a flag and dancing in support of the rights of marginalized communities nationwide. She’s also loaned her innate activism to the C

hicago Teacher’s Union, the Women’s March in Chicago, marriage equality and for acceptance of all gender identities and sexualities. And she’s accomplished all of this by the young age of 13.  

So, when an opportunity to fundraise for AIDS Run & Walk Chicago presented itself, Lillian jumped at the chance. Lillian and her mother Cynthia both walk and fundraise for the Season of Concern team, a Chicago-based non-profit that provides care and support for those in the entertainment industry experiencing health-related emergencies and medical issues, including HIV and AIDS.

For Lillian’s first walk in 2016, even the rain couldn’t dampen her enthusiasm. Both Lillian and her mother were impressed by the energy, excitement and camaraderie of the teams and the sense of unity and acceptance that permeated the air. Lillian was particularly impacted by the diversity of identities represented.

“I believe people should be represented, so that was a really good experience for me,” she recalls. 

In particular, Cynthia remembers her daughter’s infectious enthusiasm.  

“She didn’t walk the 5k walk, she ran it,” recounts Cynthia with a laugh. “She would run ahead and we wouldn’t see her and then she’d run all the way back because she was so excited and having such a great time. Lillian jumped up at the end of the event and said ‘Let’s do this again every year; this is our tradition!’” 

Lillian agrees, and particularly remembers the excitement of creating a tangible impact for those living with and vulnerable to HIV to allow them to live with dignity and purpose. 

“The general experience of being there was enlightening,” Lillian remembers. “I thought it was incredible to be a part of that.” 

Lillian is excited to continue her involvement into 2017 and beyond, and hopes to continue to raise more funds and get more people involved in the fight to end new HIV infections and health inequity. While Cynthia helps her run her fundraising page, Lillian sets the goals and creates unique incentives to get people excited to give, including a home-cooked meal for people who give more than $100, as well as an original artwork by Lillian for the top contributor. She also spreads the word to family and friends and excitedly monitors her fundraising progress before the big day. To date, Lillian has already surpassed her fundraising goal. 

But despite her passion and dedication, Lillian is modest about her involvement and believes that everyone should stand up for what they believe in, regardless of age. 

“I don’t think age matters,” she says. “If you believe in something, you should protect it and defend it. Stand up for what you believe in.”