A collaboration of healthcare agencies, including the Cook County Health & Hospitals System, the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center and other AIDS service organizations throughout the city of Chicago, announced today the launch of a campaign called STEP UP, GET TESTED: ChicaGO for 5K, the first-ever collaborative National HIV Testing Day event series for the city.
More than 20 organizations are joining forces to help increase HIV testing efforts in the most underserved communities in the Chicagoland throughout the month of June. The organizations will host a series of testing events throughout the city to offer free, rapid HIV testing services, prevention education and other resources. The campaign will also highlight health centers and hospitals that offer HIV testing as a part of their regular healthcare offerings throughout the year.
“Our goal in Healthy Chicago, the City’s public health agenda, is to reduce the number of new infections of HIV by 25%. This campaign is the perfect example of how we can achieve this goal and that is by collaborating with community partners that are committed to preventing the spread of HIV. Expanding HIV testing initiatives like this have contributed to early diagnosis of HIV thus reducing the number of late HIV infections. HIV is preventable. That is why it is so important to know your status, HIV testing and condoms are free and available throughout the City,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
“The communities in the Chicago metropolitan area are still in the greatest need for testing and treatment services in the state,” said Robert A. Weinstein, MD, and COO of the CORE Center.
“We know that routine HIV screening testing in areas with high prevalence will help reduce the number of undiagnosed and reduce long-term healthcare costs for the community. It’s vital that more healthcare settings make routine screening a part of their regular care.”
According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, in 2009 there were 1,092 people diagnosed with HIV infections, 40 percent of them under the age of 30. There are 20,391 people living with HIV infection in Chicago. Estimating that 20 percent of people infected with HIV are unaware of their status, there could be over 25,000 people living with HIV in the city (Chicago Department of Public Health, 2009).
The State of Illinois has the 6th largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, with 34,000 residents living with HIV. Geographically, the city of Chicago represents 65% of the new cases in the state, with the suburbs of Chicago following at 22%.
Some special events planned for the month include:
- June 21 from 9:00 – 11:00 pm – Night Ministry Mobile Van Testing @ the corner of Belmont and Halsted, Chicago, IL hosted by Night Ministry.