Left Justified: How did you celebrate World AIDS Day?

Did you do anything to help prevent the spread of this horrible disease, AIDS? Did you tell youth how they might protect themselves from contracting HIV? If you gave a donation to the CROP Hunger Walk, some of your support will find its way to Africa, where people are dying of AIDS. That money will help stem the tide of disease.

In fact, the world over, AIDS has been slowed, or at least, the increase in AIDS has slowed, which is good for our children’s future. In Africa, where this epidemic may have started, people are learning to use condoms. In Russia, the government is inaugurating syringe exchanges.

But here in Rockford, our mayor has successfully shut down one of the best, albeit most controversial, AIDS prevention programs in the city. Because the Total Health Awareness Team (THAT) handed out clean syringes along with its counseling, they were deemed inappropriate for Seventh Street.

Legally, THAT was legal. But the City Legal Department, using legal shenanigans, told THAT they were illegal because they did research and must move to the industrial park.

Now, when I think of research, I think of chemicals and test tubes and weird Frankenstein machines that belong in a laboratory.

THAT conducts research by asking their clients questions, recording their answers, and sending the results to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, the most prestigious medical research facility in the country. There, the information is gratefully processed with other harm reduction programs trying to lessen the harm these people do to themselves.

Harm reduction means talking a drug addict into using a clean syringe, so he/she lessen the harm to that person as well as his/her family and the community.

Now, there might no longer be a Total Health Awareness Team in Rockford, thanks to our new mayor, Larry Morrissey,

Big-time developers, who own property on Seventh Street, said THAT should move elsewhere. Of course, nobody has suggested where that “elsewhere” will be. Personally, I think THAT is fine just where it is. They help counsel the drug users off the street, and Lord knows, Seventh Street has its fill of drug users.

They also counsel the street sex providers, and Lord knows, there are plenty of women (and men) who prostitute themselves here on Seventh Street. THAT is just kitty-corner from two lingerie places. And as far as distributing syringes, THAT properly disposes of almost twice as many needles as they distribute. By closing THAT, our mayor is opening the possibility of having more syringes in the parking lots and playgrounds of our community.

On World AIDS Day, we are supposed to do something that will protect our loved ones from AIDS. Here in Rockford, we celebrate World AIDS Day by shutting down a viable HIV prevention organization.


The Fair Trade store is in exile because of the city’s delay of Rockford Urban Ministries’ building permit at 201 Seventh St. The store’s address is 623 Seventh St., and the stuff is flying off the shelves! More than $2,000 in sales made on the first weekend. Oh, happy days!

You are welcome to shop at the Fair Trade store, 623 Seventh St., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Give me a call (815-964-7111) if you would like a private showing.

Our new landlord, Bill Mohr of Mid-Town District, says we must vacate the premises at exactly midnight December 31st. No ifs, ands or buts—so we will be in a selling mood and stay open as late as possible on Christmas Eve. Happy holidays, and I hope you find the perfect gift for your loved ones.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the dec. 7-13, 2005, issue

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