Dear Chicago: Fight the AIDS epidemic

Advocate wants more resources for the hardest hit communities.

March 21, 2011

 
The struggle against AIDS may be global, but the City of Chicago plays its part in the fight. Over 20,000 Chicagoans suffer from the disease, according to statistics released by the Department of Public Health in November of 2010. City government may not dedicate dollars toward the kind of medical research that could someday lead to a vaccine or cure, but it does funnel money to local groups that provide testing, prevention, education, and treatment. The city set aside nearly $4.78 million in last year’s budget to combat HIV and AIDS.
 
A statement on the city’s website says that HIV/AIDS funding is designed to “serve communities in greatest need.” But that doesn’t square with everyone’s perception of how resources are allocated.
 
Keith McCoy, 41, for example, says he is frustrated by how much city money goes to groups on the North Side – groups he calls “politically connected.” McCoy is the treasurer of Windy City LGBT Black Pride, an advocacy group that works primarily with African-American gays and lesbians who live on the South Side. He estimates that his group receives between $6,000 and $10,000 annually in city funding, the bulk of which is spent on a yearly event in Sherman Park where they provide HIV testing to surrounding South Side neighborhoods.
 
Here, McCoy explains why he wants the new mayor and city council to ensure that the bulk of city money goes to support communities hardest hit by HIV and AIDS.
 
As of publication, the Chicago Department of Public Health did not return WBEZ’s calls for comment.
 
Dear Chicago is a project of WBEZ’s Partnerships Program. Keith McCoy was nominated for the series by Affinity Community Services, a social justice organization that serves the African-American LGBTQ community in Chicago.