Two of Chicago's HIV/AIDS social service agencies, CALOR and Vida/SIDA, co-hosted an event at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, 3015 W. Division St., on Nov. 12 in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. Both agencies, located on the West Side of Chicago, serve the surrounding predominantly Latino community.
Director of Vida/SIDA Juan Calderon welcomed out-of-town attendees who were in Chicago participating at the U.S. Conference on AIDS.
Guest speaker Dr. Teresa Garate, assistant director at the Illinois Department of Public Health, spoke briefly about the high number of HIV cases among Latino and African Americans in Illinois. "This is not a race, this is not a place where we want to be first," said Garate. She said Illinois has the seventh highest number of AIDS cases in the nation.
While the evening exuded a festive spirit throughout the night, the reality of cuts in HIV/AIDS funding was very much on the minds of many participants, including speaker guest speaker Dr. Jaime Martinez.
Martinez, who works in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Stroger Hospital, said he recently learned that his program, funded in large part by the Ryan White CARE ACT, would no longer have the monies to provide "primary care to over 302 young people, 13 through 24 years of age and they all have HIV." He spoke about how lack of health insurance among Latinos has made them the group most likely to get AIDS within a couple of months after being diagnosed with HIV.
Actor Wilson Cruz stopped by and viewed the exhibition "A year of Martorell in Chicago" by artist Antonio Martorell. The evening, emceed by Paul Lopez, featured a show by salsa dance studio Latin Rhythms and drag performances.
This story is part of the Local Reporting Initiative, supported in part by The Chicago Community Trust.