On March 9, 2022, AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) virtually hosted the annual Illinois HIV Advocacy Day in support of the Getting to Zero Illinois Plan (GTZ-IL) to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. More than 230 advocates from across the state joined together to take action on AFC’s legislative priorities by making direct connections with their state legislators. Participants were able to reach out via an Action Center, a website that allowed them to send already prepared emails and tweets for each legislative policy priority with a press of a button. Providing this virtual tool through the Action Center allowed for a higher level of accessibility and streamlined communication between advocates and their elected officials. This year, community advocates successfully made a total of 645 connections, with HB4430: Increasing Access to PrEP & PEP Through Community Pharmacies leading the way with 95 connections so far. AFC and GTZ-IL expect these numbers to rise as the state legislative session continues into April.
This year’s Advocacy Day was comprised of various trainings, community talkbacks, and storytelling panels involving AFC and GTZ-IL staff members, state government officials, and HIV/health-related advocates. Many thoughtful conversations were had regarding access to healthcare, racial equity, gender identity and expression, re-entry and how these experiences intersect within the lives of those living with HIV. To access the event recordings, including the March 9 Legislator Breakfast, click here.
During the Legislator Breakfast, Senator Mike Simmons spoke about why supporting these legislative bills and the GTZ-IL plan were necessary to achieve the goal of eliminating systemic barriers for disadvantaged communities in Illinois and improving the lives of people living with or impacted by HIV.
“We need to be lighting up the phones and calling people, flooding their inboxes, and making it hard for them to not understand our issues,” said Simmons. “When we talk about getting to zero by 2030, this is literally a life-or-death issue for thousands of people in the state of Illinois, so we don’t have time for people to not understand or try to misplace budget priorities that could save lives. Everything that [GTZ-IL is] doing here is ground zero and elemental to all of that.”
Getting to Zero in IL by 2030 will not be a straightforward journey, nor will the passing of these bills mark the day that our state reaches this goal, so the mobilization of communities to continue advocating is pivotal to keeping GTZ-IL on the right track. Advocacy Day was the spark that will grow into the fire of progress. AFC and GTZ-IL call on people and communities across the state to continue mobilizing and utilizing the Action Center to ensure your voices continue to be heard between now and the end of this state legislative session.
For more information on AFC’s 2022 legislative priorities, visit our Action Center .
Categorized under Advocacy.