We are at an incredible turning point in the HIV epidemic in Illinois and across the country. Research now shows that if we are successful in keeping people living with HIV adherent to their HIV medications, and if we can significantly increase the uptake of PrEP (daily medication to prevent HIV) among people who are at risk for HIV, we can now stop the spread of this deadly virus! With this mission in mind, a group of expert HIV providers, advocates, and professionals from across Illinois, including IPHA Executive Director, Tom Hughes, convened a task force recently to develop an Illinois Plan to Get to Zero HIV Infections. Please read more below about the important work of this group.
Jeffery Erdman, IPHA Assistant Director for Programs and Compliance
On July 26, a small group of people living with HIV, advocates, service providers and government officials met at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) to explore a plan to dramatically impact the course of the HIV epidemic in Illinois. The group was inspired by efforts in other areas, such as New York, San Francisco, and Washington state.
Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating in a state that hasn't had a full-year budget in over 18 months, participants agreed that it is critical to explore a Getting to Zero plan for Illinois. To kick off the process, the group set up teams to gather community input, engage key stakeholders, and develop a framework for the plan.
New HIV cases in Illinois dropped by nearly 28% over decade between 2006-2015, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state's implementation of the Affordable Care Act, combined with new evidence that people with HIV have a near-zero chance of transmitting HIV if they are on treatment, gives Illinois a renewed opportunity to make dramatic progress against HIV. Moreover, pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, prevents HIV more than 99% of the time when use correctly and consistently. President Obama's National HIV/AIDS Strategy, first launched in 2010 and renewed in 2015, provides a nationwide framework upon which Illinois can build.
Over the next three to five months, look out for statewide opportunities to provide input on the plan.
Participants in this initial meeting include Eduardo Alvarado (IDPH), Roman Buenrostro (AFC and CAHISC Co-Chair), Andrea Danner (IDPH), Erik Glenn (Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus), Jolie Holliman (Westside HIV/AIDS Regional Planning Council), Tom Hughes (Illinois Public Health Association), Valerie Johansen (Lake County Health Department and IL HIV Prevention Planning Group co-chair), Dave Kern (CDPH), Peter McLoyd (Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center and CAHISC Co-Chair), John Peller (AFC), Cheryl Potts (Alexian Brothers Housing & Health Alliance), John Schneider (University of Chicago), and Tico Valle (Center on Halsted).
Thanks to Kim L. Hunt (Facilitator) and Jackie Thaney (note taker) from Pride Action Tank, a project of AFC. Other participating AFC staff included Dan Frey, Ramon Gardenhire, Simone Koehlinger, and Cynthia Tucker.
John Peller, President/CEO
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
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