The Chicago Urban League AIDS Foundation convened a panel composed of elected officials, public health advocates, faith-based leaders, parents and youth to address the rise of sexually transmitted diseases in the African American community.
By the numbers, African Americans represent the largest population of new HIV cases in Chicago, according to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. African Americans represent approximately 37 percent of Chicago’s population; however 59 percent are living with HIV. Whites represent 42 percent of the population and 23 percent of HIV cases, and Hispanics represent 26 percent and 16 percent of new HIV cases.
Gonorrhea is afflicting the youth population, with 63 percent of cases (7,000 out of 11,007) occurring in African Americans under the age of 25; chlamydia also disproportionately affects young blacks.
Featured panelists included State Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago, 78th District), lead sponsor of The Illinois Accurate Sexual Health Education Bill (HB 3027); Kimberly Y. Smith, MD, MPH (Rush University Medical Center); Chris Brown (Chicago Department of Public Health); Rev. Michelle D. Hughes (Congregational Church of Park Manor, UCC); parents and youth.
The panelists urged education (“stop the silence”), and for the community to become more proactive about their health, that is, to take the HIV test and practice safe sex.
The event was sponsored by the ACLU, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Black Women for Reproductive Justice, Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago Urban League, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, and the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Association.