by Matthew C. Clark
The Center on Halsted hosted a World AIDS Day event featuring lunch and breakfast, speakers, artwork and a resource fair on Dec. 1. The speakers included HIV/AIDS Section Chief for the Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Mildred Williamson and Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Bechara Choucair, along with a special interview with filmmaker Patrik-Ian Polk.
Polk discussed how his workfrom Punks and Noah's Arc to his latest film, The Skinnyhave become progressively less mainstream over time.
"The only responsibility I feel is what is the story I want to tell," he said.
When asked about where the social issues themes in his work come from, Polk said they're story-driven, and not issue-driven.
Polk said aspiring creative people need to focus on their education first and foremost, but to also not be intimidated by technology and to take initiative.
"Go out and just start shooting," he said.
Afterwards, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's John Peller gave a talk on the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Peller said the key was in reducing the number of people who don't their status. He stressed how the Affordable Care Act will allow low-income people to gain access to Medicaid, allow medium-income people to buy insurance, and enforce more strict guidelines on health insurance companies.
Peller said the ACA wasn't perfect, and stated that undocumented people would be unable to get access to healthcare. He added that people can read more about the impact of the ACA at hivhealthreform.org .
Afterwards, a resource fair took place with various agencies including the Chicago Women's Health Center, the Heartland Alliance and the Broadway Youth Center. The Center on Halsted provided a safe-sex demonstration, and passed out cards with testing information.