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 2021-12-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

WCT 25: HIV numbers put disease in perspective
by Sam Worley
2010-09-29

This article shared 2585 times since Wed Sep 29, 2010
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


In Chicago, more than half of HIV-infected men who have sex with men do not know they are infected, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study found that while the overall local infection rate aligns with the national average, 53 percent of people with HIV in Chicago are unaware of their status, compared with 44 percent nationally.

The news comes nearly 30 years into the battle against the epidemic, and 25 years after Windy City Times was founded—when there were still just a small number of people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, but also a time when people would be diagnosed and sometimes die just a short time later.

This new report serves as another difficult reality faced by HIV/AIDS advocates and service providers as they struggle to slow infection rates. They already face hugely disparate rates of infection based on race and sexuality. The disease continues to affect the LGBT community disproportionately: men who have sex with men ( MSM ) suffer the highest infection rates of any population—more than half of all new HIV infections each year—with a cumulative nationwide total of more than 279,000 MSM dead since the beginning of the epidemic.

Infection rates have stark racial implications, too. In Chicago, a study released last year found that Black MSM were three times more likely to be infected with HIV than white MSM, and two-and-a-half times more likely than Latino MSM.

Over the last few weeks, in an attempt to get a sense of where efforts to slow infection stand, Windy City Times caught up with a number of Chicagoans whose work revolves around HIV/AIDS. Those activists talked at length about the struggles now inherent in their work: the fiscal setbacks, the faltering public attention paid to the disease, and the failure of prevention efforts to reach some affected communities.

In July, the Obama administration unveiled a long-sought National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which focuses national attention on three goals: reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. Jim Pickett, whose organization AIDS Foundation of Chicago was involved in drafting the strategy, said that he was "delighted" to see it.

"For once, we have clear direction that gay men and MSM need to be prioritized," he said. "The resources need to follow the epidemic."

Pickett said that while the goals of the strategy are laudable, it did not come with funding attached. "We cannot provide care in the absence of funding," he said.

Dr. Renslow Sherer, who co-founded Chicago's first HIV/AIDS clinic at Cook County Hospital in 1983 ( with Dr. Ron Sable, an openly gay physician who later ran for 44th Ward alderman ) , also emphasized the need for greater funding on a national level. "I think the U.S. is admired around the world for its aggressive response to HIV internationally," said Sherer, whose current work as a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago focuses on global health and HIV care and treatment. "That's one of the few great activities of the previous Bush administration. There's a lot of attention needed to continue the gains that have been made in our country. HIV is not over."

Olivia Sanchez, executive director of Project VIDA, said that over the past decade her organization has met with increasing struggles to find funding, and that the troubles have not necessarily been tied to the recent economic downturn. Project VIDA, which is located in Little Village, has done HIV prevention, education and direct service work since 1992.

In 1999, Sanchez said, Project VIDA employed a staff of 24; last year, it had a staff of 12; currently, nine people work for the organization. Sanchez said that she is still waiting for Project VIDA to be reimbursed for state grants that have already begun and ended. She has seen, she said, "not a penny."

Sanchez said that as the disease has become more treatable, it has lost the attention of the public at large. "We're not openly discussing it anymore," she said. "There isn't anything in the news in terms of HIV. It's still a crisis, it's still a pandemic."

Activists put forth a number of ideas as to why prevention efforts aren't being met with greater success. "Young adults that hear about it don't see it as a disease that can kill people," Sanchez said—and that contributes to unsafe sexual practices. Indeed, infection rates are rising among young MSM, who according to the recent CDC report are also more likely than other groups to be unaware of their status. In a survey released last year by the Chicago Department of Public Health, Black MSM under the age of 30 were found to have a 30 percent HIV prevalence rate, as opposed to four percent in white MSM.

"We're seeing complacency, particularly in lax prevention practices," said Sherer. "What one generation understood well is not being well-communicated to young people."

But, Sherer said, "The good side of complacency is widespread acceptance. Some of the stigma [ associated with being HIV-positive ] is reduced. But I think it's terrible when that translates to lax personal behavior."

"We've never done a good job [ sustaining prevention messages ] , whether it's HIV or other public health information," said Amy Maggio, a longtime HIV/AIDS activist whose work has included stints at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and STOP AIDS/Chicago. "It frustrates me. I would hate like heck if in five years from now, we'd have to start it all over again."

Maggio said that speaking frankly about the realities of the disease—and the avenues of transmission—is vital. "As a prevention educator" during the height of the epidemic, Maggio said, "we did very provocative programs in the bathhouses," addressing the risks involved with sexual practices like fisting, for instance. "Even people who are positive, there can be secondary infections. You have to get out there and talk about it."

And that includes addressing the concerns of all communities. In 2007, epidemiologist Yaa Simpson founded the Association of Clinical Trial Services ( TACTS ) , whose goal, Simpson said, is "bringing the science to the people." TACTS aims to connect HIV-affected communities—particularly communities of color—with clinical trials and prevention efforts that could benefit their members. "My approach is to start working with those communities so they develop a structural approach to change from within," Simpson said.

Through education and outreach, TACTS works to combat misperceptions and suspicions that affected communities might have of the medical profession. Regarding people who deny the progression of HIV to AIDS, for instance, Simpson said, "There are people who believe that, and they are not going to not believe it because we don't talk about it.

"Everything isn't always 100 percent right or wrong," she said. "You don't dismiss it. You provide evidence to show them."

Jim Pickett said that he sees the slowdown in prevention efforts as the sign of an evolving public health response—and he calls the notion that young people are responsible for it "overblown."

"It's not just about young people," Pickett said. "It's the fact that we've had this thing since 1981. It's natural that we can't maintain a crisis mentality for 30 years. The whole crisis paradigm doesn't work."

He said that activists need to work at communicating a complicated message, one that is prevention-oriented but that does not stigmatize people who are positive. "'It's not as scary as it used to be, but you still don't want it,'" Pickett summarized. "It's tough."


This article shared 2585 times since Wed Sep 29, 2010
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

NATIONAL California report, AIDS foundation CEO, QueerArt, intersex bill 2022-01-09
- California law enforcement officials conduct body searches on Black and transgender people more often than on white and cisgender people, according to a new report from California's Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board, LGBTQ Na ...


Gay News

FDA approves injectable PrEP 2021-12-24
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Apretude (cabotegravir extended-release injectable suspension) for use in at-risk adults and adolescents weighing at least 77 pounds for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to ...


Gay News

World of Chocolate fundraiser returns Feb. 11, benefits AIDS Foundation Chicago 2021-12-20
--From a press release - After a two-year hiatus, AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) is proud to announce the return of its famed World of Chocolate fundraiser taking place on Friday, Feb/ 11 at Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Blvd. Inspired by ...


Gay News

HIV AT 40: Longtime advocate Gregg Gonsalves talks activist roots, Larry Kramer and COVID 2021-12-08
- When it comes to dealing with HIV/AIDS, few people have been on the front lines—in the areas of activism, research and instruction—like Gregg Gonsalves. Gonsalves, a MacArthur fellow, is an expert in policy modeling on infectious ...


Gay News

AIDS Garden Chicago supporters, CDPH official commemorate World AIDS Day with event 2021-12-01
- AIDS Garden Chicago supporters and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) commemorated the 34th annual World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 at the Belmont Yacht Club with a sneak preview of the garden. The 2.5-acre ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: World AIDS Day, 'Benedetta,' books, wine in a can 2021-11-26
- —World AIDS Day event at Belmont Harbor: —The Chicago Parks Foundation will hold a World AIDS Day event on Dec. 1, 9-10:30 a.m., at the Belmont Harbor Yacht Club. Antonio King, LGBTQ health and outreach liaison ...


Gay News

World AIDS Day events on tap 2021-11-26
- World AIDS Day takes place every year on Dec. 1. During this year—which marks the 40th anniversary since HIV was officially discovered—here are some of the events taking place (locally, regionally and nationally) on, before and ...


Gay News

AFC commemorates passing of the HIV decriminalization law with World AIDS Day event Dec. 1 2021-11-24
--From a press release - The World AIDS Day Community Celebration of the Historic Passage of HB1063, which ended criminal penalties against people living with HIV, will be hosted by AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC). It will also commemorate World AIDS Day ...


Gay News

AIDS Foundation Chicago awards grants to Black- and Latinx-led organizations 2021-11-12
- AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) has awarded eight grants—totaling $72,000—to BIPOC-led organizations working to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Black and Latinx neighborhoods across Chicago. The grants came from AFC's Learning ...


Gay News

National AIDS Memorial to hold World AIDS Day national events Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 2021-11-10
--From a press release - SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 9, 2021) — On December 1, the National AIDS Memorial brings three powerful programs to the public for World AIDS Day that offer inspiration, hope, remembrance, and reflection. The programming, free to the ...


Gay News

Secretary Becerra visits Humboldt Park, AIDS Foundation Chicago 2021-11-09
- On Nov. 8, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra traveled to sites in Chicago to highlight Biden-Harris administration's plans to build back better through investments in maternal health, the Affordable Ca ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+ Latinx healthcare providers discuss impact of COVID-19 pandemic 2021-10-29
- As part of its COVID-19 Grand Rounds series, AIDS Foundation Chicago hosted an Oct. 26 panel featuring LGBTQ+ Latinx healthcare providers sharing how the pandemic has impacted their personal and professional lives. Panelists included Howard Brown ...


Gay News

WORLD Indian commission, queer royals, MTV, Putin, attack in Jamaica 2021-10-24
- India's National Medical Commission has ordered publishers and medical schools to edit their textbooks and curricula to exclude discriminatory and unscientific portrayals of LGBTI people, according to Human Rights Watch. ...


Gay News

HHS awards $2.21B in FY2021 for HIV care, support services, medication 2021-10-05
--From a press release - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced approximately $2.21 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding for cities, counties, states, and local community-based organizations in fiscal year ...


Gay News

30th Annual AIDS Run & Walk raises more than $400K 2021-10-06
- CHICAGO — More than 1,800 advocates, community partners, runners, walkers, volunteers, staff members and more gathered at Soldier Field on Oct. 2 for the 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago. The event raised approximately $420,000 ...


 



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      OUT! Guide     
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      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      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.