|February 17, 2004|| Statewide Reported AIDS Cases, 2002 -
Reported AIDS Cases by County, 2001 - 2003
AIDS Cases by Diagnosis and Report Years
REPORTED AIDS CASES DECLINE TO LOWEST TOTAL IN SIX YEARS
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The number of AIDS cases reported in Illinois in 2003 dropped nearly in half from the previous year to the lowest total in six years, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced.
But Dr. Whitaker cautioned about jumping to conclusions based on the decline in cases, principally due to the fact that there was a surge in cases in 2002 after an aggressive effort was launched to better report a backlog of cases from the city of Chicago.
"In the past few years, not much has changed with the AIDS epidemic," Dr. Whitaker said. "It is a preventable disease that we know how it is transmitted, but people continue to make risky choices. While there have been tremendous strides in therapeutic treatment, it is a disease resistant to a cure. And it tends to disproportionately impact African Americans."
There were 1,301 AIDS cases reported in 2003, a 42 percent decrease from the 2,241 cases reported in 2002. The state's total caseload was the lowest since 1998 when 1,224 cases were reported. Since the AIDS epidemic began in 1981, Illinois has counted 30,206 AIDS cases, the sixth highest total in the United States.
A similar jump in AIDS cases was seen in 2000 when cases totaled 1,945, an increase of about 300 from the previous year. That rise in AIDS numbers was attributed to an aggressive campaign by the state and local health departments to inform health care providers of a new patient code identifier system for reporting HIV cases and to emphasize the importance of reporting AIDS cases, even those not previously reported.
"The numbers may go up some years and down others, but the one constant is we know HIV/AIDS can be prevented," Dr. Whitaker said. "This disease is most frequently spread by unprotected sex with an HIV-infected partner or sharing a needle used by an HIV-infected person. Prevention can be as simple as those at risk making the decision to use a condom or not share a needle. We find, however, that either people refuse to heed the advice or don't know the simple steps they can take to protect themselves. Our job in public health is to continue to educate the public about the disease and bring about behavioral changes, especially in the African-American community."
As has been the case over the past five years, African Americans make up about half the state's AIDS cases (650) in 2003, although they represent just 15.6 percent of the state's population. Whites accounted for 36 percent of the cases with 468. Since 1981, 49 percent of the adult AIDS cases are African American, 38 percent are white and 12 percent are Hispanic.
Men continue to account for the overwhelming majority of cases (79 percent) compared with 81 percent of the case in 1999. There have been 25,197 men diagnosed with AIDS since 1981; 84 percent of all adult cases.
Men who have sex with men remained the highest risk factor named, accounting for 61 percent (628) of the male cases. The next highest risk category for men was injection drug use at 15 percent.
Among women, heterosexual contact was the most common risk factor named, with 123 cases or 45 percent, followed by injection drug use with 68 or 25 percent.
Geographically, reported AIDS cases in the metropolitan Chicago area represented 89 percent of the cases (1,164), while downstate cases totaled 137 or 11 percent.
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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