April 10, 2006
IDPH partners with community and faith based organizations to fight HIV/AIDS
To educate about HIV prevention and raise awareness about testing
DECATUR, Ill. – Today at a Family Values luncheon hosted by Youth for a Positive Direction, state public health director Dr. Eric Whitaker spoke about working with community and faith based organizations, along with colleges and universities, to address the HIV/AIDS problem in the African American community. The collaboration is part of the BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) initiative. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich launched the BASUAH campaign in September 2005 to address the high numbers of newly reported HIV cases among African Americans. African Americans made up more than half of newly reported cases, while only representing 15 percent of the state’s population, in 2004.
“With the rising number of HIV/AIDS cases in African American communities, we have to fight this disease head on,” Dr. Whitaker said. “Getting organizations on board, like Youth for a Positive Direction , along with schools and churches, ensures that we reach all parts of our community. We want to educate our communities about HIV/AIDS. That way, the communities will be empowered, to make better decisions about their health.”
The collaboration will focus on providing a network of community ambassadors for educating African American communities about HIV prevention and raising awareness about the importance of testing.
Other components of BASUAH include the following:
- Partnering with African-American churches and their youth ministries to establish peer networks and encourage testing
- Adopting rules to implement statewide rapid HIV/AIDS testing
- Encouraging Perinatal HIV rapid testing, and reporting past results
- Establishing BASUAH Sundays where faith-based leaders inform and educate their congregation about BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS)
- The South African Twinning Partnership
* A delegation of health officials from South Africa are currently on a tour of Illinois health sites, in the second part of the partnership that provides a mutually beneficial knowledge exchange between Illinois and our South African partners on how to address the HIV/AIDS crisis.
For more information on HIV/AIDS visit www.basuah.org or call the Illinois HIV/AIDS and STD hotline 1-800-243-2437.