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HIV its not just a problem in large metropolitan areas. In fact, about one-third of the HIV/AIDS cases in Illinois are among people living outside of Chicago. Thats why places like Open Door Clinic are needed to serve people living with and at increased vulnerability for HIV in places like Aurora and Elgin.
Sacha Urban, a passionate HIV/AIDS advocate and longtime participant in AIDS Run & Walk Chicago, supports the work of Open Door Clinic by serving on the organizations board of directors and providing leadership in fundraising and development.
I have a masters degree in nonprofit management, and when I started to look around at my options for doing some community work, I found Open Door Clinic, and it just seemed like such a great fit.
Urban moved to the US from Switzerland at age 21; she lived in California briefly before settling in at the University of Indiana in Bloomington.
The University of Indiana seemed like the right place for people to come out and be themselves, said Sacha. I made a ton of friends in the LGBT community there.
But after moving to St. Charles, Ill., with her husband, Urban had trouble finding that same connection to the LGBT community. Thats when she found Open Door Clinic and saw that the LGBT community and the HIV/AIDS community were marginalized by the social landscape of the suburbs and needed her support.
HIV is not a priority out here, said Urban. People in the suburbs know more people who are affected by cancer than HIV. Its a reality and a segment of the population that I dont think most suburban people want to think about.
And its a disease that can create fear and anxiety in some people. Recently, a woman came to Open Door Clinic and was diagnosed as HIV-positive. She was an older woman a grandmother.
She went to her pastor to pray with him to get support through this difficult time and he told her that he couldnt pray with her anymore because of her HIV status. I just think thats terrible. Youre not a second-class citizen because youre HIV-positive. Youre a human being.
Bringing awareness and changing hearts in the suburbs, in big cities, wherever stigma against HIV lives is why Urban participates in AIDS Run & Walk Chicago, and has for the past five years. Ive walked, and then I started running in it. Ive done it alone and with my kids.
Urbans experience with AIDS Run & Walk Chicago even prepared her to join the Team to End AIDS, with whom she trained to run the marathon in 2013.
Stigma against HIV/AIDS is still around. I run with AIDS Run & Walk Chicago to raise money and awareness to end the hurtful, negative views people have of the disease.
Join Sacha and thousands of other runners and walkers on Sept. 14 join or donate to AIDS Run & Walk Chicago today at aidsrunwalk.org.
Categorized under Inside Story.