UPDATE: THE REPORTS HAVE BEEN SUBSTANTIATED BY THE IDPH, ACCORDING TO REP. GREG HARRIS. PLEASE CALL THE GOVERNOR AND DR. ARNOLD AT ONCE!
Yesterday I posted that intense lobbying by advocates like Rep. Greg Harris, Sara Feigenholtz, Heather Steans and Mayor Daley, Governor Quinn (whose initial budget had included a 30%+ ax of AIDS funding) had used his discretionary funds to save the Illinois HIV/AIDS budget for the most part, and maintain funding at about 97% of what it had been.
Well, today, word has it that--while the across-the-board cuts are being minimized--for some reason the Chicago Health Department AIDS/HIV prevention budget is still under review. There is concern in the public health community and with Chicago area lawmakers like Rep. Greg Harris and his allies that funding may not be allocated "where science sees fit," referring to the new reports that new infection rates are exploding in Chicago, especially in communities of color.
Harris wonders: if 2/3 of the AIDS/HIV cases are in Chicago, "just what are they doing with the money?"
The Illinois Department of Public Health has neither confirmed or denied that this budget reallocation will occur (it's only just a review), but even the suggestion of such a move in a time of crisis is cause for alarm, and reason to contact decision-makers immediately before a hasty decision is made to "re-allocate [money] contrary to the epidemiological stats..."
Why the state would scramble to maintain funding, but "shortchange Chicago" is unclear, but the hint of such a move calls for some action.
Rep. Greg Harris, in conversation with me this morning, suggested that everyone with a phone or computer try to contact Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health at 217-782-4977, and Governor Quinn at 217-782-6830 or 312-814-2121.
Encourage everyone you know in Illinois to get on the phone today and tell the governor to maintain funding in the most crucial areas. Even though AIDS prevention programs need boosts statewide, the increases in Chicago do have an effect on other areas of the state as well--many of the folks who live down here in Champaign are from Chicago and have ties. Do what you can to help us pull out all of the stops on this crisis!