Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley has rejected a call from AIDS activists in the city to boost HIV prevention spending in fiscal 2004 by $1 million. Daley proposed $3.7 million in spending for HIV prevention programs, less than what the city spent in 1997, according to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. AFC reports that HIV prevention spending has decreased in Chicago by 8% since 1997, while the number of HIV cases has risen by 32%.
"Without a greater commitment to HIV prevention, Chicago's HIV/AIDS crisis will only worsen," said Mark Ishaug, AFC's executive director. "The mayor's proposed budget does not provide the resources necessary to turn the tide against this expanding health crisis."
AIDS activists, disappointed with Daley's decision, began picketing in front of City Hall on Wednesday. They also plan to picket during the city council's budget committee hearings next week, according to AFC. Chicago currently has about 22,000 HIV-positive residents. People of color account for 77% of recently diagnosed HIV infections in Chicago. The top mode of HIV transmission in Chicago remains male-to-male sexual contact.