HIV prevention in Chicago’s Black community needs more funding, alders and advocates say

Chicago City Council
The Chicago City Council's Health Committee chair Roderick Sawyer sponsored an ordinance Monday to increase HIV Funding for Black-led organizations. Photo credit File Photo

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Vanessa Smith, Director of the South Side Help Center, said groups like hers just can’t get enough resources to combat the spread of HIV in Black neighborhoods.

“We provide primarily HIV prevention and HIV care services on the far south side of Chicago, and we have been primarily dependent upon funding from federal resources, city resources, and the state,” Smith said.

She said they have had success in implementing programs, but a lack of funding forced South Side Help Center to turn clients away.

Anthony Galloway, President of Lorde, Rustin and Bates, another HIV service organization, expressed similar frustrations. Galloway said his group provided services to clients while applying for reimbursement through the City, but no money was given. That left his group in bad financial shape.

Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said 93% of HIV/AIDS funding comes from the federal government, and she said federal authorities restrict the use of that money mostly to medical treatments and long-term housing.

There is little money, she said, for non-clinical services like prevention, even though Arwady said she believes that should account for half of the spending.

The City Council’s Health Committee chair — and mayoral candidate — Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) sponsored an ordinance to increase HIV funding for Black-led organizations.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: File Photo