Program Background

The Bridge Project was created in 2011 by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, with the help of the Communities of Color Collaborative (3C), in response to the consistently high rate of undiagnosed HIV infection among African Americans in Chicago. The overarching goal of the Bridge Project is to make testing routine and accessible to community members, and to increase the number of people who know their HIV status. The program focuses on the nine communities with the highest rate of poverty and HIV/AIDS in Chicago (West Englewood, Englewood, Auburn/Gresham, Chatham, Avalon Park, South Shore, Washington Park, Woodlawn and Greater Grand Crossing). The Bridge Project is supported by HIV FOCUS, a program of Gilead Sciences.

Current Testing Initiatives

The Bridge Project conducts routine testing at non-traditional sites, including three Illinois Department of Human Services sites. By providing testing in community areas, the organization is able to reach potentially hundreds of people every day that might otherwise not receive HIV testing services. Since April, The Bridge Project has conducted approximately 1,500 HIV tests at the Illinois Department of Human Services, identifying seven positive individuals who were previously unaware of their status.

The Bridge Project has also initiated a texting campaign, called Say Yes To The Test, to encourage community residents to get out and take an HIV test and know their status. The goal of Say Yes To the Test is to promote routine HIV testing as part of overall healthcare, and to remind African Americans in Chicago to take the test at least once each year.