AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) announced on Jan. 29 that it had filed a Freedom of Information Act ( FOIA ) request calling for Illinois Department of Public Health ( IDPH ) to publicly account for its budgeted HIV-treatment and -prevention spending.
In a statement, AFC officials said that the state had not presented an accounting for the $25 million allocated for HIV-related matters in Fiscal Year 2018.
"Despite numerous requests, IDPH has not provided a public accounting of the spending of public state tax dollars granted under the authority of the budget for the current fiscal year to the HIV Lump Sum, passed by the General Assembly in July 2017," said the statement. "Due to the lack of the state's transparency unfortunately AFC has been forced to file a Freedom of Information Act Request to obtain this information."
The statement continued, "… Since the inception of the HIV Lump Sum, IDPH has made a public accounting of its spending every year, even during the two-year budget impasse from 2015-2017. That is now refuses to do so is truly troubling, and goes against the spirit of cooperation that was established in creating of the HIV Lump Sum.
"AFC will share with the community the information we receive from our FOIA request."
This development arose just as AFC and numerous partner organizations and agencies launched an ambitious campaign aimed at reducing the number new HIV infections in the state to zero by the year 2027. Overall numbers are declining, but numerous cohorts are still disproportionally represented in new infection rates, among them members of the Black and Latinx communities. Rates are currently highest among young Black who have sex with men, according to AFC.
"…A recent report highlights that a young Black gay man becoming sexuality active today at the age of 18 has a 60% chance of being HIV-positive by the age of 40," said the Jan. 29 statement. In addition, a recent study suggests that 66.7% of Blacks between the ages of 18 and 65 years old have never been tested for HIV."