National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Forum Hosts Black Legislators, Community & Faith-Based Leaders
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Black Leaders Denounce Racially Inequitable Public Health Funding & Urge Support of IL HB5842 to Increase African-American HIV/AIDS Response Act from $1.2M to $15M

CHICAGO - illiNews -- In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), GreaterWorks! Inc., produced a live Facebook forum for South Side Help Center (SSHC) with various Black-led organizations and State Legislators, to bring attention to the increasing rates of HIV/AIDS in Black communities and need to bring equitable funding by city and state public health.

SSHC's executive director, Vanessa Smith, commemorated the day as her mother, Betty Smith, Founder SSHC, birthday and noted how racial inequity in funding and disparity in statistics of HIV/AIDS incidence are still as prominent in Chicago and the State of Illinois, as when her mother founded SSHC in 1987. Creola Kizart-Hampton, Flounder/President, GreaterWorks! Inc., provided statistics, introduced panelists and moderated the forum, as follows:
  • African-Americans (Non-Hispanic Black People) comprise only 14.2% of residents in Illinois, yet 48% of new HIV diagnoses and 43.1% of existing diagnoses of those living with HIV  
  • Chicago Department of Public Health reported on December 1, 2020 the increase of new diagnoses of HIV in Black communities from 54.3% in 2018 to 56% in 2019 and of new diagnoses of late HIV from 51% in 2018 to 57% in 2019, with Black people also comprising 57% of AIDS diagnoses. However, CDPH allocated only $1.7M of its 2019-2021 $40M+ HIV/AIDS budget to Black-led HIV/AIDS service providers
Black legislators on the NBHAAAD forum discussed how the  Illinois African-American HIV/AIDS Response Act (AAHARA), which was enacted in law in 2006, is currently only funded $1.2M of Illinois Department of Public Health's $120M+ HIV/AIDS budget. Illinois House Bill 5842 to increase the budget of the AAHARA to $15M, is being introduced by State Rep. Lamont J. Robinson Jr., D-5th District- Chicago, during the current Illinois legislative session.  Robinson acknowledged support of Black executive directors, and other Black HIV/AIDS activists. State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins , D-16  th Senate District spoke on her leading passage of the Red Lottery ticket to support "people living with AIDS" (PLWA) and activism of Ben Montgomery, Marc Loveless and Michael O'Connor in advocating for funding of HIV/AIDS prevention and care services in the Black community. Collins also referenced how larger White -led organizations, including AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Howard Brown and Center on Halsted received majority of public health funding though rates of HIV/AIDS are highest in Black communities.

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State Senator Kimberly Lightford, Illinois Senate Majority Leader, State Representative Justin Slaughter, D-27 th District, Chicago, echoed support of HB5842 while commemorating Black-led organizations for successful programs."Though Illinois Black legislators are supporting HB5842, we need for citizens of Illinois to contact state senators and state representatives who don't look like us," stated Senator Kimberly Lightford.

Maximillian M. Boykin, Policy and Organizing Manager, Black AIDS Institute, presented the "We the People"plan, addressing funding and policies needed nationwide to negate the racially inequitable spread and impact of HIV/AIDS. Boykin noted that reform is needed in Illinois so that Black-led HIV/AIDS service providers are directly funded equitably versus majority of public health and foundation funding being allocated to large White-led CBOs.

Rev. Doris. Green, Founder, CEO, Transforming Reentry Services, MWIPM pushed for equitable funding from for Black-led agencies by foundations and government, while Solomon Arnold, Founder/ED, In Demand Entertainment addressed bias against same-gender loving youth, men and women and need for increased, direct funding to Black-led CBOs in Chicago and throughout the Illinois.

Rev. Charles Straight, Faith United Methodist Church spoke directly to racial inequity of funding to White-led orgs including Howard Brown and AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and need for Black legislators to diligently push for increased funding of AAHARA. Pastor Andria S. Hudson, The Powerhouse Chicago; Founder/CEO, ASH Enterprises noted the need for more compassion and support of youth in the church and need to negate the stigma of HIV/AIDS so that people could be transparent about the need for assistance. She also addressed the need for the church to participate in HIV/AIDS education and awareness, quoting, Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed because they lack knowledge."

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Emmy Award Winning AIDS Activist, Rae Lewis Thornton, shared how she kept her HIV diagnoses hidden for 7 years before telling Rev. Jesse Jackson and "going public" and how her condition had advanced to AIDS. Thornton commented on the lack of equitable healthcare access in Black communities, and medication adherence for HIV+ people since the incidence of HIV/AAIDS is inequitably higher. "Black people need to use condoms and take PrEP to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS in our communities."

Music Artists & Spoken Word
Gospel Recording Artist, Pastor Phil Tarver, sang "Life Every Voice." Zenon Vivara, recited a self-written poem on the alienation from stigma of HIV/AIDS in the Black church and  heartbreak of gender bias.

Media Contact
Creola A. Kizart-Hampton, President, GreaterWorks! Inc.

Filed Under: Health, Lifestyle

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