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LGBT Community Center Receives $1.6M Grant For HIV/AIDS Outreach

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given a grant of more than $1.6 million to the Center on Halsted LGBT community center, which will use the funds to expand its services for young African-American and Latino men.

The award was issued as part of a five-year, $55 million effort by the CDC to reach out to communities that are at especially high risk for HIV infection.

“HIV and AIDS is still a life-threatening epidemic – especially in the African American and Latino communities which are facing increasing rates of infection,” Center on Halsted chief executive officer Modesto Tico Valle said in a news release. “Thanks to this grant, we can empower members of our community most adversely affected by HIV and AIDS.”

The award will be given to the center over the next five years. It will help launch the Mpowerment Project, an HIV prevention program that urges young gay and bisexual men to have safer sex and build healthy and positive communities. The center says it will be able to reach 1,400 people over the next five years thanks to the grant.

The Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., is partnering with three organizations to reach the at-risk young men – the Chicago House Social Service Agency; Affinity Community Services, which works on behalf of black LGBT communities, and the Chicago Gay Black Men’s Caucus, which works to cut the rate of HIV infections among African-American men.

The CDC estimates that the number of HIV infections among young black men who are sexually active with men rose 48 percent between 2006 and 2009. Among Latinos, men who have sex with men accounted for two thirds of all infections, nearly half of whom were between the ages of 13 and 29, the center said. Transgender people affected severely by HIV, with an estimated 28 percent infection rate, according to the center.

Nationwide, gay and bisexual men account for more than 60 percent of new HIV infections, and the Center on Halsted offers such services as rapid testing, and educational and counseling services, a swell as a hotline that provides medically-accurate information about HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

The CDC awards were given to 34 community groups around the country, including CALOR, a Humboldt Park-based HIV/AIDS outreach organization for the Latino community, the center said.

“This partnership will help us make real, significant progress against the growing challenges around HIV and AIDS within our communities,” said Kim Hunt, Executive Director of Affinity Community Services.

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