Dr. Ngozi Enzike, Director, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) traveled to Chicago on Friday, July 30th to meet with executive directors of 10 Black-led community based organizations from across the state to address their concerns relative to restrictive definitions included in grant applications for the Illinois African-American HIV/AIDS Response Act (AAHARA) which limit prevention education and HIV testing to only certain African-American (AA) demographics versus all African-Americans. After discussions and review of administrative codes, as well as language of the AAHARA itself, Dr. Ezike agreed that ALL African-Americans should be included in prevention education and testing for HIV/AIDS and funding to the Black-led CBO grant recipients to be allocated accordingly.
Meeting discussions also included specific issues relative to Regional Implementation Grants and complaints of slow or no reimbursement to grantees by an IDPH selected lead agency and potential for providing direct funding to grantees. The availability of trainings and train-the-trainer sessions also were discussed along with the new health equity checklist, and a review of IDPH’s HIV/AIDS budget to determine the percentage that is being allocated directly to African-American CBOS, particularly in light of the fact that rates of new HIV diagnoses are now at 50%+ for non-Hispanic African Americans; 23.6%% Hispanic and 21.8% White in Illinois. (AIDSvu.org) In 2006, when the AAHARA was first passed, African-Americans were 48% of new and existing HIV diagnoses.
State Representative Lamont Robinson Jr., helped bring IDPH leadership and Black-led CBOs together after having been the sponsor for increase of the AAHARA fund from $1.2M to $15M during the Spring 2021 session, ending June 30. Deputy Governor Sol Flores also attended the meeting which took place at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center. Meeting attendees also included:
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH REPRESENTATIVES
- Justin Dewitt- IDPH, Chief of Staff
- Griselle Torres, IDPH, Deputy Director
- Andrea Perez, IDPH, Director, HIV/STI
- Allison Nickrent , IDPH, Legislative Liaison
- Alliance Care 360/Brothers Health Collective, Ariq Cabbler, Executive Director
- Brave Space Alliance, Jae Rice, Communications Director
- Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus, Joshua Travis, Executive Director
- Community Wellness Project, Dana Williams, Executive Director
- GreaterWorks Inc., Creola Kizart-Hampton, Founder/President
- Project VIDA, Jerome Montgomery, Executive Director
- Proactive Community Services, Eula Burge, Executive Director
- South Side Help Center, Vanessa Smith, Executive Director
- Taskforce Prevention Services, Christopher Balthazar, MA, Executive Director
- Transforming Reentry Services, Rev. Doris Green, Founder, CEO
- Writers, Planners, Trainers Inc., Harold Lawary, Executive Director
This meeting marked the first formal action of the newly formed entity, Black Leadership Advocacy Coalition for Healthcare Funding Equity (BLACHFE). The purpose of BLACHFE is to identify and dismantle systemically racist policies and funding processes which result in inequitable funding of Black-led community-based organizations in order to negate the historically inequitable spread and impact of HIV/AIDS, specifically among the Black/African-American population throughout Illinois.