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U.S. News

Illinois: Activist Contends AIDS Still a Threat

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

Back to other news for April 2012

Adapted from:
Associated Press
04.29.2012; Debra Pressey, News-Gazette (Champaign)

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News and Articles on HIV Groups and Medical Care in Illinois

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