Chicago City Council Members Press Mayor To Increase AIDS Funding by More Than 25%Chicago City Council members on Wednesday said they would request a $1 million increase in HIV/AIDS funding in Mayor Richard Daley's (D) proposed budget for 2004, the Chicago Tribune reports. The mayor's budget calls for $3.7 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and care for the year, a $100,000 increase over 2003 spending levels. However, city council members are concerned that the proposed funding level does not adequately reflect an increase in HIV cases among African Americans, Hispanics and men who have sex with men in the city, according to the Tribune (Washburn, Chicago Tribune, 10/30). Together, African Americans and Hispanics make up 81% of the Chicago's new AIDS cases, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "The problem is proliferating in our community. After all these years, we're still having major problems in the minority communities. We're going to have to find some money somewhere to meet this problem head on," Health Committee Chair Ed Smith said (Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, 10/30). In addition, the number of reported AIDS cases has increased 32% since 1997, while city funding for HIV prevention programs has decreased 8%, according to an AIDS Foundation of Chicago release (AFC release, 10/29).
Ten city council members so far have agreed to seek a budget amendment calling for the $1 million increase in funding, according to Alderman Thomas Tunney. In addition, the city is waiting to hear whether a $600,000 increase in federal funding for HIV/AIDS will be approved, Chicago Health Commissioner John Wilhelm said; city spending on AIDS for 2003 was "dwarfed" by $43 million in federal funds, according to the Tribune. However, city finances are so constrained that any increase above Daley's proposed $3.7 million is unlikely, Wilhelm said. "I have pressures every day for more funding from every imaginable group in the city of Chicago," Daley said, adding, "I wish we could do more ... but everybody wants more money." According to the Tribune, the city's budget is so tight that the $100,000 increase in HIV/AIDS funding was the only increase across the entire health department budget (Chicago Tribune, 10/30).