ICYMI: Some of your favorite AFC stories from 2016

January 24, 2017

by Cotrell Loftin

Over the past year, it’s been a pleasure to amplify the voices of so many HIV advocates, and to be heard by thousands of readers throughout 2016. The audience has spoken —here are the ten most viewed News and Inside Story posts from 2016. Share your favorites with a friend!

1. Que No Estas Solo: Beto Comes out as an Undocumented Person Living with HIV

“After a few years of sharing my story with people, I started to change the way I was dealing with my own status. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but suddenly I stopped thinking of HIV and started living. Now I live positively.”

Through all the difficulties Beto Soberanis faced as an undocumented immigrant living with HIV, he chose to take control of his life. Read his story in English or listen to him read it en espanol.


2. Citywide campaign transmits love and shows the sexier side of HIV prevention

The amazing PrEP4Love public awareness campaign is equal parts informative and sexy! The sex-positive and body-positive ads spread tingle and awareness about PrEP, a once-a-day pill that greatly lowers the chance of spreading HIV, throughout the city.


3. AFC joins human and social service agencies in lawsuit against Gov. Rauner and state agencies

97 agencies joined together to tell Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, “Pay us for our work!” in a lawsuit for breach of contract. The damages? More than $130 million in unpaid work. Since then, we have moved our case to the Illinois Supreme Court; stay tuned for more updates.


4. AFC denounces Gov. Rauner’s proposed cuts to HIV and related programs and services in budget for FY 2017

With a multi-billion dollar state revenue shortfall, Gov. Rauner in February of 2016 proposed cuts in the FY17 budget to vital HIV programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. In response, we called for a budget that protects the most vulnerable people in the state, and for Democrats and Republicans to come to the table to negotiate a responsible budget solution that includes adequate revenue. Still, there's no full-year budget in sight as of January 2017.


5. #TeamJessica walks toward hope and away from stigma

“I was only 22 when I was diagnosed. I was young and I felt it. But everyone’s just trying to learn how to live, and now I’m just learning how to live a little differently.”
Jessica shares her story of staying hopeful while living with HIV. Despite less-than-positive reactions to the news of her diagnosis, Jessica invited her family to openly ask her questions about living with HIV and even brought them all together to participate in AIDS Run & Walk Chicago!


6. 10 movies about HIV/AIDS recommended by AFC staff

For all you movie buffs, the AFC staff rounded up the top ten movies about HIV and AIDS to add to your hibernation watch list! From Philadelphia to RENT, you’ll laugh and cry when watching these classic movies.


7. Jeanette seeks a place to call home

“Every time I put my key in this door, I feel grateful, because I still remember the times when I wasn’t sure where I was going to sleep at night ... It’s amazing, the difference that can come from having somewhere to stay.”
Jeanette struggles with recovery, experiencing homelessness and a cancer diagnosis but maintains a positive outlook while waiting for secure and stable housing. Her story is a much-needed reminder that "housing first" is the first step to treatment of any kind.


8. AFC and national partners file complaint against discriminatory health insurance plans

We called out Humana and other health insurers for discriminatory practices against people living with HIV. Everyone deserves affordable and equitable health care; unaffordable health care is only a tiny step above not having health care at all.  The great news is that Humana listened, and this year, the cost of HIV medications in their health insurance marketplace plans is in line with other insurers in the state. To make access to their care more equitable, they’ve rectified their formulas to include more people in need of coverage!


9. Next to — or better than — normal

“He said to me, ‘You gotta make a choice today: are you going to be ashamed of it, or are you going to go forward and live your life and be proud of you are and not let it hold you back?’ Well shit, that was an easy choice!”
Jeff realized that leaving his teaching career meant leaving behind his health coverage — which could throw his HIV medication access into question. Rather than feel defeated, Jeff chose to live a better-than-normal life as an advocate and crushed it as a member of the TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) in 2016.


10. The metamorphosis of recovery

“I often get asked the questions, ‘Why do you do this work?’ ‘What is your personal stake in this work?’ ‘Are you in recovery?’ I don’t normally go into detail about my journey, because sharing my stories will turn the focus on me ...”
Jennifer, AFC’s former recovery counselor, cares about the people we serve and held a personal stake in helping others on their journey to change their relationship with drugs and alcohol. Learn why metamorphosis is her favorite word!


Editor’s note: Supporting people through telling their stories is not always easy, nor is it always celebrated. AFC wishes to thank the following people for their role in shaping, recording, writing and sharing the Inside Story pieces you have read in 2016: Mirhanda Alewine, Raven Feagins, Cotrell Loftin, Eryn MacNeil, Elijah McKinnon, Ashley Slupski, and Brian Solem.

Categorized under AFC news and Inside Story.

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