A huge PrEP ( pre-exposure prophylaxis ) advertising push and a new strategic plan were among AIDS Foundation of Chicago's ( AFC ) announcements at their 2015 annual meeting Nov. 9.
AFC President/CEO John Peller hosted the meeting, and spoke of the difficulties of trying to keep on top of advancements and political changes as infection rates remain high. "It takes a lot of money and time to change a 35-year-old epidemic, and change the systems that create health inequities in the U.S." he said.
AFC will unveil an extensive PrEP-awareness campaign in February 2016, aimed at getting its message to audiences advocates have had difficulty reaching so far.
"Let's be honest: Plenty of middle-aged guys know about PrEP and can afford it," Peller said. "The situation is very different for young African-American gay and bisexual men, trans women and African-American cisgender women at high-riskthat's who this campaign will target, because we believe that the population that is most vulnerable to HIV deserve the same knowledge and resources."
AFC raised $500,000 for the campaign, which utilizes marketing materials created pro bono by Leo Burnett and the Egalitie agencies, among others.
AFC's revised mission statement "boldly" encapsulates the organization's work in the years ahead, Peller said, noting that it recognizes that inequity and inequality are pervasive in the healthcare system.
"To us, health equity means recognizing that we're not playing on an even playing-field," he said. "We need to raise everyone up, so we can all take care of our health. Ultimately, however, we need to get here removing barriers altogether."
Other strategic priorities include preventing new cases of HIV, building collaborations and knowledge centers with other organizations and institutions and advocating for change. Among other initiatives Peller discussed were Pride Action Tank and partnerships with Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus and Taskforce Prevention and Community Services.