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News: Illinois

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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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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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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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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After three-year stalemate, Illinois legislature increases revenue and passes state budget

July 6, 2017

The Illinois budget impasse has finally come to an end.  Over the July 4th holiday weekend, the Illinois General Assembly passed bipartisan legislation for a full Fiscal Year (FY) 18 budget that supports health equity across the state. Legislators also passed a revenue bill (which increases the Illinois income tax from 3.75% to 4.95%) to actually fund that budget. The AIDS...
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Get your HIV status at these AIDS Run & Walk Chicago beneficiaries

June 26, 2017

Each June 27, National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) encourages people of all ages to get tested for HIV. Chicago has a vibrant network of testing sites at which you can #KnowYourStatus; plus, many of them are also beneficaries of AIDS Run & Walk Chicago's CommunityDirect program!  Here are two things you can do on National HIV Testing Day to build health equity in Chicago:...
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Ending gun violence means recognizing it as a public health threat

June 12, 2017

One year ago today, the Pulse nightclub shooting brought immense grief to our nation and reminded us about the havoc guns can reap on America’s most vulnerable communities. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) was deeply saddened by the death of 49 members of the broader LGBTQ and Latinx community. We were also deeply moved to  end  gun violence in Chicago and across...
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AFC secures legislative wins despite budget impasse

June 1, 2017

As the Illinois spring legislative session ends, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) celebrates its legislative accomplishments, despite enduring a third year without passage of a state budget. Illinois has now gone 700 days and counting without passing a positive, people-first budget . As the state moves into another year without a responsible economic plan in place, the most vulnerable members...
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From past to present: HIV advocates leading the future at AFC's Advocacy Days

May 30, 2017

by Ashley Brown Before the first morning light had struck Chicago’s streets, almost 100 HIV advocates from various backgrounds came together on May 17 to travel to Springfield to fight for HIV lives at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC)’s annual event Advocacy Day. Abuzz with excitement for the upcoming day, familiar faces shared greetings and hugs, like family members long...
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250 Fewer People with HIV Identified During Illinois Budget Impasse

May 26, 2017

The three organizations that coordinate HIV prevention services in Illinois outside Chicago – Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Illinois Public Health Association, and Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago – and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago are outraged to learn that new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) found the state budget impasse decreased...
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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.”