(Chicago, IL) – More than two decades after the first observance of World AIDS Day and the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS, Illinois finds itself with the 7th highest number of AIDS cases in the nation, according to Illinois’ public health agency.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS estimates that 33 million adults and 2.5 million children are living with HIV worldwide. In Illinois, 38,265 cases have been reported since 1981. Half of all Illinois cases are African-American, and of those diagnosed since 1981, 20,970 have died.
“There has been tremendous and groundbreaking work done worldwide to educate the public in the effort to prevent the further transmission of HIV,” said Dr. Kenneth Soyemi, acting director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “But we must continue working globally and locally to reach our goal of zero AIDS-related deaths.”
Local state lawmakers are also weighing in on World AIDS Day 2011, highlight themes of remembrance and perseverance.
“The battle against HIV/AIDS remains un-won and I intend to continue fighting this epidemic until we win,” said State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago).
And State Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) posted on her Facebook page, “Let us remember the loved ones we lost and do so by working together toward a cure.”
“Remember those we have lost, and remember millions of people in this country and around the world who struggle without access to decent healthcare,” posted State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago).
The Illinois public health agency sponsors several programs and funds many organizations statewide that aim to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and also are providing access to healthcare services for those living with the disease. Among them:
- Quality of Life Endowment Fund – Proceeds from the “Red Ribbon Cash” scratch off lottery game are used to fund organizations providing HIV/AIDS prevention and support services.
- AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) – Serves 4,100 low-income persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS per month access life-saving anti-retroviral drugs.
- BASUAH – Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS program promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among communities of color, which are disproportionately impacted by the disease, through education, collaboration and community engagement. Visit BASUAH.org for more information.
With any luck, the need for these programs will disappear in our lifetime. Poof.