U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky ( D-9 ) and Ald. Ariel Reboyras ( 30th ), on June 19, were among those who joined Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) for a ribbon-cutting of its new location at 5755 North Broadway.
The organization was for several years housed at the Edgewater location, so the event marked a homecoming of sorts. TPAN Board Chair Jeff Kendall said, "It's our old home, but it's our new home as well."
TPAN CEO Patti Capouch noted that the event marked 30 years to the day when a group of Chicagoans gathered together and decided to do something about individuals in need of HIV/AIDS services and care.
"We remain as committed to our clients today as they were 30 years ago," Capuoch said.
The new location will be run in conjunction with Howard Brown Health, which over the past few years has gained a presence in several new locations throughout the city. CEO and President David Munar said that, in healthcare, "Nothing happens without an empowered patient."
One component for the location that is new for TPAN is a drop-in center for youth, which was named the "Tea Room." Over 55 percent of youth that TPAN serves is either experiencing homelessness or unstably housed, according to HOTTER ( Healthy Outcomes Through Treatment, Empowerment & Recovery ) Program Manager Ashley Martell. Kendall noted that 30 percent of TPAN's clientele overall was experiencing homelessness or unstably housed.
Schakowsky, whose district offices and political offices flank either side of TPAN's, spoke about the looming showdown over whether the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ) would be repealed. Nullifying the Medicaid expansionwhich has made much of Howard Brown Health's recent growth possiblewould have serious implications for the LGBT community and persons with HIV/AIDS, among many other Americans.
"It's going to be devastating," Schakowsky said of the possible repeal. "But if they go ahead with this, it's going to be devastating to them politically. … When only 17 percent of Americans think it's a good idea, it's the same as saying that, unanimously, nobody thinks it's a good idea.
Munar asked, "Without insurance coverage, how can people maintain their drugs? … It will affect low-income people the most."
He noted that, with interventions such as PrEP and PEP that are able to curtail new infections, and regimens that can reduce viral loads to undetectable levels, "It's an exciting time. We will be slowed down if the Senate proceeds."
Michael Payne, who has been a longtime TPAN client, also spoke at the event, as did physician Robert Garofalo, who made an appeal on behalf of the organization.
"As the epidemic has evolved, so has TPAN," said Garofalo.