Press Release

February 24, 2005


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – African-American women are being diagnosed with HIV at disturbing rates both nationally and statewide. Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, is encouraging women to get educated about and to get tested for HIV/AIDS, not only during National Black History Month but throughout the year.

“HIV infection is the leading cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34 nationally. In Illinois, we are seeing the number of reported HIV cases steadily climb among African-American women,” said Dr. Whitaker.

“Knowing your sexual partner’s risk for HIV infection, having protected sex and avoiding intravenous drug use will positively impact this trend.”

African Americans represent 53 percent of all Illinois HIV cases and, of that total, 68 percent are African-American women. Nationally, the rate of AIDS diagnoses for African-American women was approximately 25 times the rate for white women and four times the rate for Hispanic women.

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Center for Minority Health is addressing the issue by offering programs, which provide outreach, education and, in some cases, counseling, testing and referrals for treatment services. The SISTA Project (Sisters Informing Sisters About Topics on AIDS), a social skills training intervention

program offered statewide, is aimed at reducing HIV sexual risk behavior among African-American women at highest risk. Additional projects include the South Side Help Center in Chicago and Chicago Women AIDS Project. For more information on these programs, call the Department’s Center for Minority Health at 217-782-4977. For information on women and HIV/AIDS visit

The Center for Minority Health is also encouraging African-American women to get tested for HIV/AIDS through newspaper advertisements running throughout the state during the month of February.


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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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