Thursday, Dec. 1, marks World AIDS Day, a national observance to increase public awareness of HIV and AIDS. In light of the increasing needs of those with HIV and AIDS across the country?”and in particular throughout Chicago’s African-American communities?”the Greater West Side Development Corporation, NFP, along with Sankofa, Inc., and Beauty for Ashes Ministry, will bring together Chicago community members to partake in HIV testing followed by a gospel choir concert.
“We’re urging all to get tested,” said Beverly Donley, director of the Greater West Side Development Corporation, NFP. “We’re trying to save lives.”
From 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., various testing locations will be set up throughout Chicago’s West and South side communities including Dominick’s on 3240 W. Rosevelt Road, and Georgia’s Music Room on 3915 W. Roosevelt, a hotspot frequented by many area teens.
Testing will be conducted by the Working for Togetherness community organization and Christian Community Health Center.
“In our city alone, African Americans account for over 50 percent of the people living with HIV and AIDS,” explained Donley. “The statistics are horrifying. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is definitely a visible problem, but also a preventable one. As a community organization, we feel responsible to bring forth awareness by providing free testing and resourceful materials.”
“We feel it’s necessary to encourage area churches, which have such a strong impact in our communities, to become involved in reaching out to the community to help educate them about the epidemic,” said Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7th). “I will visit all of the West Side testing sites and and attend the 6 p.m. gospel concert as well. I feel very passionate about this effort.”
The Gospel Shout Out Concert will conclude a day dedicated to health and healing. Ten local church choirs and gospel singers will perform at the concert.
“It is extremely important for us to involve the faith-based community,” said Donley. “Several ministers and community leaders are involved in this crusade to stop the spread of the disease.”
The World AIDS Day Gospel Shout Out Concert is scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m. and will be held in the auditorium of John Marshall Metro High School, 3250 W. Adams St. The concert is free to the public.
On last year’s World AIDS Day, Cong. Davis himself took an HIV/AIDS test. He says he wants to encourage his colleagues and friends to get tested on World AIDS Day 2005.
“Last year, several people told me they were tested for HIV/AIDS because they saw me take the test and learn my results on television,” Davis recalled. “It is better to know your status so we can change the statistics of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community. If you are positive, you need to learn how to live with the disease and not look at it as a death sentence.”
The ecumenical committee for the events are U.S. Senator Barack Obama, Cong. Davis, State Senator Rev. James T. Meeks, State Rep. Constance Howard, Dr. Lisa Henry-Reed of Stroger Hospital, Rev. Alberta Ware, Robin Robinson of WFLD-TV (FOX), and Rev. Derrick Fitzpatrick of Diverse City and Across the Board Marketing and Promotions.
Sponsors for the World AIDS Day Gospel Shout Out include Walgreens, After Phive Chicago, Illinois Department of Public Health, Chicago Department of Public Health, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, The Let’s Talk Let’s Test Foundation, Amerigroup Foundation and ChiLife.org.
The public can show their support by purchasing tickets to the Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic game Nov. 29. Visit www.afterphivechicago.com for details. For additional information, call 773/826-0164 or e-mail info
Greater West Side Development Corporation is a not-for-profit, community-based program organized in 1981 providing economic community development to the constituents of the Lawndale community. It has since grown to now provide services in the areas of HIV/AIDS that are comprehensively and culturally diverse on the West and South sides of Chicago.