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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Grants Target Drug Use and HIV
John Keilman
October 23, 2003
Chicago Tribune (10.23.03) - Thursday, October 23, 2003

Five Chicago-area health centers will split about $6 million in grants to combat HIV and drug abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced Wednesday.

The grants are intended to help minority communities disproportionately affected by drug abuse and HIV, and the money will fund programs that address both conditions simultaneously. "When a person is under the influence of a substance, their judgment is impaired. Therefore, some of them are engaged in very high-risk activities, such as unprotected sex or sharing needles," said Carlos Chavez of Elgin's Renz Addiction Counseling Center, which will receive $102,000 for a program aimed at Latino men who have sex with men.

The University of Illinois-Chicago will receive $2 million over five years to help drug users on Chicago's Southeast Side. A similar program tried in some Chicago neighborhoods in the late 1980s "saw a 75 percent drop in the rate of new HIV infections, and it stayed that way for four years," noted public health professor Larry Quellet.

This year, Cook County prosecutors decided to seek treatment as a probation requirement for people convicted of drug crimes. Chicago's Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, which already works with people referred by prosecutors or probation officers, is expected to increase its number of clients to 12,000 from 4,000 a year, said Executive Vice President Pam Rodriguez. TASC will get $2 million over five years to deal with the influx of probationers.

Genesis House, a group that helps women leave prostitution, will receive almost $1.8 million over five years. Randomly selected clients will get daylong counseling covering topics from HIV to domestic violence, while others will not. Both groups will have access to Genesis House's usual services, including drug treatment, and a comparison will be made to see if counseling made a difference, said Lisa Nicholson, the group's director of program operations.

Governors State University-University Park will use a $102,002 grant to design a substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior prevention program for middle-school children.