Associated Press (04.29.12) - Monday, April 30, 2012
The Greater Community AIDS Project of East Central Illinois
(GCAP) was founded in 1985 as the Gay Community AIDS Project.
Later, its name was changed to acknowledge that AIDS was
affecting more than just the gay community. Its services
include emergency and nutritional assistance, case management,
and some limited transitional and long-term housing.
About 70 percent of GCAP's $190,000 annual budget comes from
government grants; the rest comes from private donors and
fundraising, said Mike Benner, who first came to the group as
a volunteer after learning he was HIV-positive. Now its
executive director, he credits GCAP's transitional housing
with helping him get off drugs and regain control of his life.
Benner frequently speaks to teens and young adults about
HIV/AIDS, and he finds that they "just don't see it as the
life-threatening disease that we did," due to the availability
of effective treatment. But Benner warns them that HIV is
"going to alter your life." Referring to issues like medical
bills, disclosure to partners, and difficulties planning a
family, he says, "I mean, it's a hard burden to bear."
While men who have sex with men, especially black MSM,
continue to be the group most affected by HIV, Benner said the
demographics of GCAP's clients are shifting. Nearly one-third
are heterosexual women, he said, and 15 percent have a child
under age 18.
For more information on GCAP, visit http://gcapnow.com/.