April 14, 2021

GTZ-IL will play a big part in AFC’s Advocacy Week this year

What do you think of when you hear the word “advocacy?” If you asked me a year ago, I’d probably say a lawyer paired with a stern voice or an elected official equipped with elegant words. Now when I think about advocacy, more than anything, I think of my Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) community. 

I’ve continued to be inspired by the unique ways our network has spoken up and acted out on issues that impact the HIV community. We have adapted program policies to continue to serve others during COVID-19. We’ve sat in doctor’s offices and clinics to ensure our clients are respected. We’ve joined dozens of coalitions. These and the countless other ways you all have raised awareness of GTZ-IL are proof that our community is made up of some of the strongest advocates out there. 

And now, we have an opportunity to show up in a new way at AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC)’s advocacy week, April 19-23. The all-virtual event will have a dedicated day for advancing the goals of GTZ-IL. Wednesday, April 21, GTZ-IL Day, will be spent discussing, learning and showing how policy actions can be used to move us closer to zero new HIV transmissions. Participants will get the chance to ask questions and learn about effective advocacy, meet members of the GTZ-IL Community Board and hear more about the two bills we’re prioritizing as a community and ways you can help get them passed. 

The need for progressive public policy is something that has continuously been brought up in conversations I’ve had with our partner organizations and individuals. It also came up at our regional engagement events with so many of you saying that macro-level change was the only way to end the HIV epidemic. The need for equitable funding, HIV decriminalization and access to affordable and quality health care are all things that can and should be addressed at the governmental level in addition to what we all continue to do at the organizational level. 

Whether you’re a novice advocate or someone who regularly talks with legislators, there is a place for you and we welcome you. Because everything will be held virtually, it will be safe and easy for advocates across the state to tweet, email and call their elected officials to discuss policy priorities. And for advocates who’d like more, there will be events with the purpose of teaching you how to effectively communicate about policy and then getting the opportunity to put those skills to the test.  Advocacy Week is the perfect opportunity to use your voice to enact change, and GTZ-IL Day will be your chance to do that with some familiar faces. 

Getting to zero is possible, but we’re all going to need to continue to do things we’ve never done in order to get us where we want to go. Focusing our energy on passing legislation is a big step towards that. Share your story, speak your truth and activate your power. 

You can register and stay up to date on all things Advocacy Week at the virtual advocacy center. Hope to see you there! 

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