AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ), on April 20, issued what officials called a "report card" on Gov. Bruce Rauner's work on HIV/ AIDS issues during first 100 days in office. The document listed six different aspects of HIV/AIDS care for which the Rauner administration must be responsible, and gave F's in all but one.
AFC has been aggressively lobbying against deep budget cut proposals that, if carried through, will sharply reduce access to services for many Illinoisans.
"As a candidate, Bruce Rauner signaled his intentions to work for all Illinois residents," said Ramon Gardenhire, AFC's vice president of policy and advocacy, in a statement.
"However, once sworn in as Governor his budget proposals would take Illinois in the wrong direction with regards to stopping new HIV infections and preserving critical programs and services for those living with HIV."
Those areas assessed include: protecting critical HIV/AIDS services and programs; making PrEP available to people who are vulnerable to HIV infection; fighting HIV/AIDS in the African-American and Latino communities; improving healthcare access; investing in LGBT homeless youth to reduce new infections; and community engagement and dialogue.
Rauner's proposal featured a $6 million proposal to the HIV/AIDS budget item line. Numerous programs and agencies would be affected, among them an ambitious $1 million program that would have increased access to PrEP. The proposal also reduced funding to the African-American HIV/AIDS
Response Act Fund, which was at the heart of controversy in 2014 when the state failed to actually issue funds after awards to various agencies had been announced.
The only non-failing grade AFC issued was a "B" in community engagement and dialogue. Rauner actually did meet with advocates from the LGBT community and appointed a liaison, J. Marcos Peterson. Peterson attended a community forum on the budget cuts on April 8 at the Center on Halsted, and said the administration was willing to engage in dialogue about the issue.
AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Affinity Community Services will host a state funding advocacy workshop on Saturday, May 2, and a Springfield Advocacy Day on Wed., May 13. Visit www.aidschicago.org/positivebudget .