Hundreds of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Chicago will now receive local, high-quality care, thanks to a new grant awarded to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) by AIDS United. The grant to AFC is one of 10 awards granted to communities across the country by AIDS United to support its Access to Care (A2C) initiative. The awards are all supported by a federal grant to AIDS United from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) to improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.
The grant to AFC from AIDS United will support the development of a new outreach and support service network called Connect2Care, which will help people living with diagnosed HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), and particularly PLWHA of color, connect or reconnect to continuous HIV medical care and other essential services. AFC will partner with four experienced HIV/AIDS organizationsincluding Chicago House, Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation, South Side Help Center, and Vital Bridgesto establish regional C2C hubs that will conduct outreach and networking activities targeting PLWHA who are not engaged in HIV care to create seamless systems from HIV diagnosis to care.
Each hub will work with medical and support service providers on Chicagos north, west, near south, and far south sides. In addition to outreach and linking clients to medical care and support services, case-finding and linkage activities, AFC will work with the hubs, the Midwest Training and Education Center, and medical and social service providers across Chicago to develop systems that immediately link PLWHA who are out of care or inconsistent in care to coordinated systems of HIV medical care, education, and supportive services in their region.
HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect men and women of color in Chicago, including African-American and Latino gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 24,847 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Chicago area at the end of 2007, not including unreported cases, which are estimated at approximately 7,000, based on projections by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are more than 600,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States that are not receiving the life-saving care they need.
AIDS United is proud to be supporting the work of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and its community collaborators with this SIF grant, said Mark Ishaug, AIDS United President and CEO. In addition to developing innovative ways to help get people living with HIV in Chicago into the care they need, the AIDS Foundation of Chicagos commitment to matching its grant from AIDS United with resources from the local private sector will significantly increase the funding available for critical access to care activities for Chicagos populations most impacted by the epidemic.
The Social Innovation Fund targets millions of public-private dollars to expand effective solutions across three issue areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures and youth development and school support. AIDS Uniteds recent $3.6 million SIF award is in support of the healthy futures issue area, and requires a 2:1 match from the private sector to create a funding pool of more than $10 million annually. The funding pool will aim enhance the health and welfare of people living with HIV/AIDS through interventions like the one being developed by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and its community collaborators that work to increase access to life-saving HIV care and treatment.
By advancing innovative client services and working closely with medical and social service providers, we hope to transform Chicagos HIV service landscape to meet clients needs and preferences, and support early and continuous care engagement, said David Ernesto Munar, AFC President/CEO. According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, nearly 50% of all PLWHA in Chicago are not receiving the HIV care they need. Our grant from AIDS United and the Social Innovation Fund will give us the capacity to help these individuals get the life-saving support they need.
For more information about the A2C Initiative, visit: www.aidsunited.org/community-impact/access-to-care-a2c.