How has the Illinois Department of Public Health spent the $25 million in state funds budgeted for HIV services in FY18? The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) doesn’t know, and we’re disappointed in this lack of transparency regarding taxpayer dollars and needed services for those living with and vulnerable to HIV.
Despite numerous requests, IDPH has not provided a public accounting of the spending of public state tax dollars granted under the authority of the budget for the current fiscal year to the HIV Lump Sum, passed by the General Assembly in July 2017. Due to the lack of the state’s transparency unfortunately AFC has been forced to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to obtain this information.
The HIV Lump Sum supports vital HIV testing, prevention and outreach services, as well as linkage to health care and other services that prevent HIV transmission and help communities most affected by HIV thrive. Community-based organizations, health care providers and health departments provide these services across the state’s 102 counties. Approximately 45,500 people are living with HIV in Illinois.
Illinois has made significant progress in the treatment and prevention of HIV in the state, with the advent of new prevention technologies such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), treatment as prevention and the development of Illinois’ first “Getting to Zero” statewide plan aimed at eliminating new HIV diagnoses in the state over the next decade. However, particular communities continue to be most impacted by HIV.
Given these numbers, the state should use ever tool available to fight the HIV epidemic. Since the inception of the HIV Lump Sum, IDPH has made a public accounting of its spending every year, even during the two-year budget impasse from 2015-2017. That is now refuses to do so is truly troubling, and goes against the spirit of cooperation that was established in creating of the HIV Lump Sum.
AFC will share with the community the information we receive from our FOIA request. AFC calls on the Illinois Department of Public Health to release a full accounting of its spending under this portion of the Department’s budget, so that the Department and the community may work together to best address the HIV epidemic in Illinois by spending every state dollar available for that purpose where it is most needed.