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Illinois gov signs bill funding African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund

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Last week, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill that returns funding to the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund.

The bill, HB5549, ensures funding from the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund will support research centers and resources hubs led by representative members of the community.

HB5549 provides that the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund creates and maintains at least one Black-led Center of Excellence HIV Biomedical Resource Hub for every $3,000,000 of available funding. According to the CDC, 46% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois are Black or African American, a disproportionally high rate. However, only 8% of PrEP prescriptions written nationally each year are for Black or African-American individuals. The Fund, originally established in 2006, is designed to target HIV/AIDS transmission reduction services among African Americans.

“Access to quality healthcare, medicine, and services is a right and not a privilege. We must fight against disparities that disproportionately impact the health of Black and Brown people in this country,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “By signing legislation that sustains the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund and makes PrEP and PEP more accessible, Illinois is widening the path for equitable care and community based support while fulfilling the promise of creating policy and allocating resources as we move towards our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in Illinois.”

“Removing a systemic barrier to these lifesaving medications will put us on a trajectory to end the HIV epidemic as we know it,” State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) said. “People who do not have access to a doctor or may not trust the health care system will have an easier source to access these critical medications, preventing many new HIV infections.”

Simmons is also a co-sponsor of HB5549.

“Historically, Black people living with HIV or AIDS have not received the care and resources they deserve. Amending the historic African American HIV AIDS Response Act to extend it another 25 years and to fund Black-led health hubs are significant steps in the right direction,” said State Rep. Lamont J. Robinson (D-Chicago), the lead House sponsor for House Bill 5549. “By establishing more Black-led HIV resource hubs, we’re guaranteeing Black Illinoisans have the health resources they need, while also working to reduce the disparities in HIV treatment between Black and non-Black residents.”

“LGBTQ+ people and communities of color in Illinois should be able to access critical health care without experiencing barriers, harassment, and discrimination,” said Michael Ziri, director of public policy at Equality Illinois.

“In 2005, I led the creation of the African American HIV/AIDS Responsive Act in response to the specific impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Illinois disenfranchised communities, and now this law builds upon that act,” said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “Creating a Center of Excellence Biomedical Resource Hub for HIV/AIDS preventative care including supportive services is key in treating HIV-infected residents and preventing the continuous spread of this disease, which will help slow down the epidemic.

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