Innovation through Action text
2020 annual report text

As we reflect on the myriad of challenges that arose in 2020, we are proud of the ways AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) innovated to support Illinois’ HIV/AIDS community. From advancing our racial equity work to launching a hotel project to help those in need of temporary housing during COVID-19, AFC created new solutions to meet the emerging needs of people living with and vulnerable to HIV. These solutions center racial equity, at a time when those disproportionately impacted by HIV had to also contend with COVID-19 and related job losses, housing challenges and more. We cannot thank you enough for your support and trust in us during a challenging year. Together, we were able to respond, and together, we can move forward.

With gratitude,

Peller signature
Craig Johnson signature

John Peller, President and CEO, and Craig W. Johnson, Board Chair

AFC has five strategic priorities that aim to support people living with HIV or chronic conditions thrive and prevent new HIV cases. In 2020, we added two new ones: Responding to COVID-19 and Advancing Racial Equity and Justice. The original five priorities include: Be a Bold Voice for Change; Advance Health Equity; Strengthen our Organizational Excellence; Prevent New Cases of HIV; and Serve as a Collaboration and Knowledge Center. Our report is structured around these priorities.

John Peller and Craig Johnson
Black man wearing mask

Responding to COVID-19

AFC took action to meet the new challenges COVID-19 created for our clients, staff and community. We brought a mental health care professional to an all-staff meeting to discuss strategies and resources to support their mental health during this pandemic. We also created policies to offer flexible hours to staff, including parents, to support new household responsibilities such as remote learning. AFC developed and routinely updated a public-facing COVID-19 resource center to meet the needs of our community.

65 people and families

Housed 65 people and families in hotel rooms to help them transition to stable housing or quarantine due to COVID-19

Two young children looking at camera

Connected our community to food resources

0
clients received meals from food banks
0
clients received food vouchers
0
clients received home grocery deliveries

Rapidly enrolled people living with HIV who left jail or prison into supportive programs. They faced increased stigma and fear because of COVID-19.

0

208 participants in Corrections
Case Management program

x2

Doubled referrals since March 2020

0 %

Linked with 33% more clients in 2020 than previous years

Distributed in emergency rent, utility, food and other assistance to 689 households to help them endure the hardships that COVID-19 created or exacerbated.

Fully remote workforce

Created a fully remote-friendly workforce in accordance with the City of Chicago’s COVID-19 guidance.

7 COVID-19 Expert Conversations

Convened 7 COVID-19 virtual conversations on topics ranging from long-haul COVID-19 experiences to vaccine development and distribution.

Black Lives Matter protest in Chicago

Advancing Racial Equity and Justice​​

For years, AFC has recognized the importance of advancing racial equity and justice as not only critical to ending the HIV epidemic, but also to healing our city, state and nation. Black Lives Matter. It’s long overdue for us to recognize and end white supremacy and all racist systems. That’s why in 2020, we joined the national conversation calling for end to white supremacy on our blog, in our newsletters and on social media. We also launched a Race Equity Action Plan, knowing that sometimes the work starts at home. AFC contracted the Morten Group to assess the state of racial equity at AFC and to equip us with a plan to advance the work internally. We also held a conference for the HIV workforce to identify and eliminate racism within the workplace and our sector. AFC remains committed to advancing racial equity for years to come.

4 statements

Joined the national conversation calling for an end to white supremacy through 4 statements on our blog, in our newsletters and on social media.

Race Equity Action Plan

Hired the Morten Group to help AFC address racial equity and justice internally through a Race Equity Action Plan, knowing that sometimes the work starts at home.

Positive Change II

Hosted 186 attendees at Positive Change II, a virtual conference for the HIV workforce to identify and eliminate racism within our sector.

Black woman and man in conversation around a table

Be a Bold Voice

AFC used its bold voice to speak out against racism and white supremacy in 2020. Thanks to Lambda Legal and other partners, we sued the Trump administration after it signed an executive order barring training that focused on racism and sexism. We published statements explicitly calling for needed changes; we amplified the voices of people living with HIV, LGBTQ+ and people of color on our blog; and we mobilized advocates to advance legislation that supported our community.

Policy and Advocacy

Hosted dozens of virtual conversations
open to the community.

6 HIV Decriminalization 
Munch and Learns
4 Fireside Chats
2 TalkBacks

AFC’s project incubator and think tank, Pride Action Tank (PAT) acts to improve outcomes and opportunities for LGBTQ+ communities in the Chicago region.

2 critical conversations about the U.S. Census

Hosted 2 critical conversations around including and counting LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. Census and the importance of centering Trans voices and perspectives

Focused on uplifting older LGBTQ+ adults

Hosted an advocacy training 

Led a storytelling program

Created a virtual Illinois delegation breakfast that allowed older LGBTQ+ adults to connect with legislators on issues that matter most to them

Shared 4 original stories created by our partners, Board members and staff that helped our community understand the issues at stake in the 2020 election:

Lesbian couple embracing

Here’s why LGBTQ+ Illinoisans should care about this election

By Mike Ziri, (he/him), Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois

front of Supreme Court building

Dramatic shifts in the Supreme Court could upend the legal rights of many Americans

By Colleen Connell, Executive Director of ACLU Illinois

stacks of coins

Seven things to know about the proposed Fair Tax Illinois constitutional amendment

American polling booth

How I took action as an election judge, and how you can too this year

By Gary B. Beringer, Dr. P.H.

Lesbian couple embracing

Here’s why LGBTQ+ Illinoisans should care about this election

By Mike Ziri, (he/him), Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois

American polling booth

How I took action as an election judge, and how you can too this year

By Gary B. Beringer, Dr. P.H.

front of Supreme Court building

Dramatic shifts in the Supreme Court could upend the legal rights of many Americans

By Colleen Connell, Executive Director of ACLU Illinois

stacks of coins

Seven things to know about the proposed Fair Tax Illinois constitutional amendment

Black man smiling at camera

Advancing Health Equity

In a typical year, AFC helps thousands of Illinoisans achieve their specific health and life goals. Sometimes that looked like helping an individual make a positive change of their choosing related to drug use, and other times it looked like helping people living with HIV sign up for health insurance during Open Enrollment. Because we recognize the importance of a home for one’s health, AFC continued to prioritize securing homes for those experiencing housing insecurity, continuing rent payments for our clients in supportive housing and issuing emergency financial assistance to keep our clients stably housed.

HUB logo
Launched the a collaboration between AFC and the Center on Halsted dedicated to providing resources to people living with HIV or who are on PrEP.
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Fielded 1,442 calls to the hub hotline

1-844-HUB-4040

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Connected 412 people to emergency rent, utility and other financial assistance
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Connected 319 people with other services, including housing, case management, food, and mental health services

Supported the journeys of living with or vulnerable to HIV by connecting them to health care, housing, transportation and/or food.

720 people

Provided permanent housing for 720 people in 597 households, including 85 children in families.

1,816 people

Stabilized housing for 1,816 people through helping them find more affordable homes, and providing rent subsidies and emergency rent and utility payments to prevent evictions or shut-offs.

5,289 people

Connected 5,289 people with 162 case managers at 58 agencies to help them thrive.

100 people

Supported 100 people with intensive behavioral health support through the Road to Health and Housing program.

Darrow Alexander headshot

“That’s the importance of health care. I was sick and didn’t even know it.”

Darrow Alexander, a 57-year-old Chicagoan and AFC client, was having health issues he couldn’t identify. He knew his options were limited without health insurance. Now, with access to health care, he’s been able to improve his mental and physical health.

0 %
Among enrolled in HIV case management, 84% of them were virally suppressed as of their most recent lab result, meaning they are staying healthy and preventing HIV transmission.
Supported the Center for Housing and Health in its administration of the Flexible Housing Pool, which has supported along the path to stable housing, including 22 children under 18.
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Located 1,255 people who were disconnected from their health insurance and helped them reconnect to care through the AFC program CommunityLinks.

0

Helped 186 people register for health insurance, including ACA Marketplace plans and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

Two men wearing masks smiling at camera

Strengthen our Organization

Despite most of the organization working remotely, AFC continued to grow. Our team now totals 129 AFC and Center for Housing and Health staff, and we offered on-the-job experience to 24 interns in 2020.

Gala 35 logo

$515,000

Raised over $500,000 (net) at our 35th Year Gala, which was attended virtually by 272 guests.

AIDS Run & Walk logo

1,198 participants

Safely supported 1,198 AIDS Run & Walk Chicago participants across 6 locations and in a virtual experience.

$178,637

Raised over $400,000 (net) with $178,637 returned to 24 community partner teams.

T2 logo

$123,427

While marathons and triathlons were canceled worldwide, 239 TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) participants still rallied and raised over $120,000 (net) to support AFC’s communities.

Craig Johnson headshot

“AFC has been a leader since the beginning of the HIV epidemic — I have so much respect for this organization.”

In October, Craig W. Johnson, longtime advocate for Black and LGBTQ+ communities, was appointed as Board Chair. Craig, who has served on the Board since 2017, said his initial priorities included elevating the organization’s ongoing work and impact on people of color, the development of AFC’s racial equity strategy, fostering external partnerships, and enhancing the synergistic relationships between AFC’s Associate Board and the Board of Directors.

Young black man standing and smiling while holding a sign

Prevent new cases of HIV

Preventing new cases of HIV is a core part of our work at AFC and our commitment to the statewide Getting to Zero Illinois plan. AFC continued its advocacy around PrEP uptake by sharing and hosting conversations about the latest innovations, including the development of long-acting, injectable PrEP. AFC mobilized our community around National HIV Testing Day on social media, sharing vital information on where you can get tested for HIV across Illinois.

155 attendees

Hosted 155 attendees at Desire Driven Science – HIV Prevention Research, Pleasure and Equity. This virtual conference co-hosted with Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) focused on new medications and modalities moving through the HIV prevention research pipeline.

Before you book your next gynecology appointment, read this (doctors, you too)

By Bailey Williams
Dr. Everywoman standing

Getting to Zero Illinois

AFC helped advance the Getting to Zero Illinois plan by engaging nearly 300 people through 8 regional community engagement events, co-producing 7 new blog posts, and supporting the creation of a guide for providers on how to take a comprehensive sexual history. Read more about that work in GTZ-IL’s annual report here.  

Two Black women sitting on bleachers smiling at camera

Serve as a Collaboration and Knowledge Center

In a time of increased isolation and new economic challenges, AFC’s role as a collaboration and knowledge center took on renewed importance in 2020.

Learn more about AFC’s history and future as a convener of information, education and leadership for people living with HIV and AIDS and those supporting the community.

Women's Connection

AFC's Women’s Connection project hosted 10 trainings and 20 events for advancing the health and wellbeing of cisgender and transgender Black women in Chicago.

World AIDS Day

Partnered with Cook County Health for World AIDS Day to create a sense of shared community in a time of isolation and inspire our community to activate around supporting people living with HIV and remembering those lost.

Service Providers' Council

Created space for 33 partner organizations to exchange ideas, innovate and act through the Service Providers’ Council.

53 case manager trainings

Convened case managers to learn and exchange ideas on how to best support their clients through 53 trainings.

Mentored organizations on their journeys to support people living with and vulnerable to HIV.

Hosted a funder introduction event to help these organizations cultivate new resources from AFC foundation supporters.

Donors and Supporters

Partner Network