The Chicago Department of Public Health announced that the city’s two HIV/AIDS councils, the Chicago Area HIV Service Planning Council and the Chicago HIV Prevention and Planning Group, would dissolve and a single council will form, according to a Friday press release.
The announcement came just as Christopher Brown, the CDPH Assistant Commissioner, made public that he plans to resign effective March 15 to accept a position at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Brown, who headed the city’s STD/HIV/AIDS programs, made his unexpected announcement on Feb. 17 at the Chicago Bar Association, where the assembled members rose in a emotional salute, according to the release.
Both bodies met at the Bar Association gathering to consider to dissolve each effective April 30, contingent upon final approval from Mayor Emanuel, according to Jose Munoz, deputy commissioner at CDPH. The new group, Chicago Area HIV Integrated Services Council, will also start April 30.
Both motions to dissolve the groups were approved by roll call votes.
Munoz said having a single council is a great plan and will allow the city’s HIV planning and programs to be more efficient.
“This is going to help us align with the national HIV strategy. It’s going to lead to a more comprehensive planning process, it’s got allow these groups to share best practices,” he said. “Ultimately, this is just going to be a way of using resources more effectively across Chicago and the nine collar counties that are represented on this board.”
The Chicago Area HIV Integrated Services Council, when in place, will be in line with directives from the Health Resources Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and under the National HIV/AIDS Strategy approved by President Barack Obama.
The new council will comprise members from the original two boards as well as applicants who will be selected for membership and later approved by Emanuel.
“We are going to have people who are currently on the council apply and become part of this new group, but it’s also going to give other folks to the opportunity to join the council,” Munoz said.
Approximately 23,000 Chicagoans live with HIV and an estimated 20 percent of them are unaware of their status. There are approximately 1,000 new HIV infections every year as explained at the meeting during an epidemiological-data presentation by CDPH’s Nanette Benbow, according to the release.
Membership applications for the new council are due Feb. 29.