Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

Phill Wilson: The Fight Moves On
by Andrew Davis
2008-03-01

This article shared 3312 times since Sat Mar 1, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Phill Wilson ( right ) with actor Hill Harper ( left ) and activist Al Sharpton.

____________

The stats are well-known, but are still staggering: According to the Los Angeles, Calif.-based Black AIDS Institute, nearly 50 percent of the 1.2 million HIV-positive U.S. residents are African-American, 67 percent of the new cases among women and 70 percent of the new diagnoses among youth involve Blacks. The executive director of the institute, Phill Wilson ( who, incidentally, is from Chicago ) , talked with Windy City Times about the why these numbers are so high and what is being done to try to reverse the problem.

Windy City Times: The numbers regarding HIV-infected Blacks are certainly disturbing. How does this happen?

Phill Wilson: It happens in a number of ways. It happens because Black communities were slow to respond to the epidemic, and HIV is a disease of opportunity. It is also a disease of networks, so that once the disease takes hold in a community it basically feeds upon itself. Second, Black communities did not get the kind of support to respond to the AIDS epidemic, as [ compared to ] the white gay community. And, thirdly, I think that the other engine is that poor people, young people and people who don't have access to primary health care are disproportionately impacted. And there's the combination of HIV and drug use—all of these things create a perfect storm, the AIDS epidemic that we see now in Black America.

WCT: Something that a lot of people have jumped on [ as a major cause of the AIDS epidemic ] is the 'down low' phenomenon. Do you think that it's been overblown?

PW: I definitely think it's been overblown. First of all, about the notion that the 'down low' is a uniquely Black phenomenon—that's flatly not true. Second, even this far into the hype about the 'down low,' we have not been able to draw any conclusive relationship [ between ] the 'down low' phenomenon and a significant [ cause of ] the AIDS epidemic in Black communities. That's not to say that there aren't men who are on the 'down low'—clearly there are, and that's not to say that some of those men aren't HIV-positive. But the question is if that's a chief engine that is driving the AIDS epidemic in Black communities; I haven't run across any data to corroborate that.

WCT: What's the main difference between what's going on now and back in the '80s?

PW: One is that, obviously, HIV is not getting the kind of visibility it was getting in the mid-'80s. Certainly, from a government prospective and from the prospective of foundations and corporations, people are not investing as much to fight the disease as did in the late '80s and mid-'90s.

Also, the communities that are most impacted have changed over time. Now, AIDS is a Black disease. No matter how you look at it—gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic class, level of education or geographic region—Black people bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic in America today, and that is a major change.

WCT: And is it presenting a major change in how funds are being allocated?

PW: It's certainly a major change in how funds should be allocated.

WCT: When I talked with you back in 2005, you said that the fight against AIDS in the Black community had 'starved to death'? Do you still feel that way?

PW: Yes. The resources still are not coming to our communities in a sufficient way, and we need to address that.

WCT: What can the average person do to stem the tide?

PW: People can do things around their own protection—things like raising your own awareness and increasing your knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and knowing your own HIV status. Also, [ there's ] advocacy and communicating to policymakers and elected officials that HIV/AIDS is an issue that's still important to us, and demanding that our leaders pay attention to the disease.

WCT: You mentioned our leaders, which, of course, makes me think of the presidential race that's happening. Is there any particular candidate's HIV/AIDS platform that you're gravitating toward?

PW: Well, there are four candidates remaining—Sens. [ Hillary ] Clinton and [ Barack ] Obama on the Democratic side, and Sen. [ John ] McCain and Gov. [ Mike ] Huckabee [ on the Republican side ] . Neither Sen. McCain or Gov. Huckabee has AIDS plans, although Gov. Huckabee has voiced support for a national AIDS plan; Sen. McCain has not. Both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama have voice support for a national AIDS plan, and their plans are very similar. I don't think that the AIDS agenda will look substantively different in an Obama presidency versus a Clinton presidency. [ However, ] I do think it would look very, very different if you compared a Democratic to a Republican presidency when you look at the remaining candidates.

Now, Gov. Huckabee has made some very alarming statements in the past about quarantining people with HIV, and while he has said he feels differently about it today, he has not rejected those statements; I would be very concerned about [ would-be ] President Huckabee's agenda regarding HIV/AIDS. Sen. McCain has not invested in this issue at all, which leads me to believe that he has not thought about the issue—which would lead me to have concerns about [ would-be ] President McCain's policy on HIV/AIDS.

WCT: And if you had our current president's ear for, say, 10 minutes, what would you tell him?

PW: I would say, 'George, you don't have to go all the way to East Africa to find Black people living with AIDS. A subway token on the D.C. Metro would introduce you to more Black folks living with HIV or at risk for HIV than you would ever want to know.' Now, the current president, in my opinion, has not paid appropriate attention to the domestic AIDS epidemic, which means that he has not paid attention to the AIDS epidemic in Black America.

WCT: What is the Black AIDS Institute up to right now?

PW: The Black AIDS Institute is focusing on mobilizing Black communities—creating an environment where every Black institution in America is addressing HIV/AIDS in a way that's consistent with their goals and objectives. We're trying to get Black organizations to make fighting AIDS one of their top priorities—to set specific and measurable goals and objectives that articulate what they are going to do, when they are going to do it, what they expect the outcomes to be and how they are going to evaluate their efforts. We are working with organizations around the country to write strategic action plans, and we want to create an environment where we're shooting to end the AIDS epidemic in Black America by increasing the percentage of African Americans who know their HIV status, increasing the percentage of HIV-positive African Americans who are in appropriate care and reducing the stigma in our community.

WCT: Would you like to add anything?

PW: It's important to know that we're at a unique juncture in the AIDS epidemic, and we have an opportunity to make a quantum leap in attacking HIV/AIDS in Black communities—and it's imperative that we do so. It is imperative that Black institutions take ownership for fighting the AIDS epidemic in our communities, and it's imperative that people of goodwill everywhere continue to be committed to end the AIDS epidemic in America.

See www.blackaids.org for more information.


This article shared 3312 times since Sat Mar 1, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Sen. Baldwin, colleagues applaud confirmation of Global AIDS Coordinator, push for global LGBTQI+ rights
2022-07-02
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen.Tammy Baldwin joined her colleagues in congratulating John Nkengasong on his recent confirmation as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. The lawmakers also urged Ambassador Nkengasong to ensure ...


Gay News

Chicago LGBTQ+ leaders, activists reflect on Pride Month at event state Sen. Simmons hosts
2022-06-30
On June 29, Illinois first out gay state senator, Mike Simmons, hosted a press conference featuring Chicago LGBTQ+ leaders and activists at Gerber/Hart Library and Archives. Speakers included Simmons; Gerber/Hart ...


Gay News

Out at CHM: Panelists discuss HIV/AIDS' continued impact on dance community
2022-06-25
The Chicago History Museum (CHM) hosted a June 23 panel with doctors and dancers who shared their experiences with the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as ideas for continuing to address the disease today. Following the discussion, ...


Gay News

CDC reminds people that National HIV Testing Day is June 27
2022-06-24
-- From a press release - June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), a day to emphasize the importance of HIV testing and make sure everyone knows their status so they can take steps to improve their health, regardless of the ...


Gay News

HIV testing dropped sharply among key groups during first year of COVID-19 pandemic
2022-06-23
-- From a press release - New CDC data published ahead of National HIV Testing Day (Monday, June 27) show a sharp decrease in the number of CDC-funded HIV tests administered in health care and non-health-care settings (43% and 50%, respectively) from ...


Gay News

100 HIV groups call on Congress to fund Biden's National PrEP Program
2022-06-16
-- From a press release - (New York City, NY) Wednesday, June 15, 2022—PrEP4All, Inc., along with 100 HIV organizations, are leading the push for Congress to fund a National Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Program that would ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Onetime Gay Chicago publisher Craig Gernhardt
2022-06-15
Craig Gernhardt—who once was the publisher of the now-defunct Gay Chicago—has died at age 61, according to Tribute Archive. His father, Gay Chicago Magazine co-founder and Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame inductee Ralph Paul Gernhardt, passed ...


Gay News

TPAN to host Closing Ceremony for Ride For Life Chicago June 19
2022-06-15
-- From a press release - Chicago, IL—TPAN will host the Closing Ceremony of the Ride For Life Chicago on Sunday, June 19 at Foster Beach from noon-5pm. Cyclists will complete their 200-, 100-, and 50-mile rides to converge at the beach ...


Gay News

Governor signs bills expanding access to HIV- and AIDS-related care and prevention
2022-06-14
-- From a press release - Chicago—Governor JB Pritzker signed HB4430 and HB5549 into law today, removing barriers to access for HIV and AIDS care and prevention. HB4430 allows pharmacists to dispense both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis drugs (PrEP and PEP) without ...


Gay News

Out at CHM's 'Dancing for Life' to take place June 23
2022-06-10
The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., is continuing its Out at CHM series with "Dancing for Life: Moving through HIV/AIDS" on Thursday, June 23, 5:30-8:30 p.m. In honor of Chicago designating 2022 as the ...


Gay News

New military policy keeps HIV-positive service members deployable
2022-06-09
A new Defense Department policy allows HIV-positive service members with an undetectable viral load to not only stay in uniform but remain deployable, Military Times reported. ...


Gay News

AIDS Run & Walk Chicago to now take place Oct. 2
2022-06-08
The 31st Annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago will now take place on Sunday, October 2. The annual event helps raise awareness and funds for individuals who are living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS across Chicagoland. ...


Gay News

Critically acclaimed Queer Serial History Podcast continues new series into Pride Month
2022-06-06
-- From a press release - In Queer Serial's radio drama style, NLGJA award-winning producer Devlyn Camp is bringing gay history to life with news & gay radio shows from the archives, unheard interviews between historian Will Roscoe & Supervisor Harry Britt, ...


Gay News

Community and politicians gather to open the AIDS Memorial Garden
2022-06-02
Chicagoans gathered at the lakefront the morning of June 2 for the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the city's long-awaited AIDS Memorial Garden. "There are so many ones who have passed who have come to witness ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Trans survey, Gays Against Guns, TIME 100, candidates, crimes
2022-05-29
Transgender women experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, poor health services and low pay are less likely to receive necessary HIV prevention support or treatment, according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study based on responses from ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.