State Public Health Director kicks-off 16th Annual HIV/STD Conference which offers the latest in prevention, research and medicine
Men who have sex with men and African Americans
most impacted by HIV/STDs
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, offered welcoming remarks and applauded Governor Rod R. Blagojevich for increasing state funding for HIV/AIDS efforts by almost 70 percent. Since taking office, the Governor’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS has been unrivaled. He has created the BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) campaign to address the disease in the African-American community, implemented the greatest expansion of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and granted millions of dollars to help with housing for those living with HIV/AIDS.
“A comprehensive approach must be taken to prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs. By sharing new ideas and information through these types of conferences we are better able to get services to those in need, help prevent the spread of disease and work to find better treatment,” said Dr. Arnold. “Numerous gains have been made in HIV/AIDS treatments, but there are still advancements we need to work toward, especially in reducing the number of HIV/AIDS infections in populations of men who have sex with men and African Americans.”
Actress/advocate Kimberly McCullough (“ General Hospital,” “Bugsy” and “Consenting Adults”) talked about The Impact of Entertainment Television on HIV/AIDS at the 16 Annual HIV/STD Conference: “Our Journey Continues” today at the Hilton Springfield Hotel. Approximately 700 healthcare professionals, counselors, public health officials and social workers are expected to attend the three-day conference, making it the largest conference attendance to date. The conference will allow participants to network, share ideas and gain further knowledge about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) to enhance their work. The conference is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Public Health Association.
This year’s conference speakers include Hydeia Broadbent who was born with HIV and debuted as an AIDS activist and public speak at the age of six, appearing on Oprah, 20/20, Good Morning America and A Conversation with Magic Johnson; Hazel D. Dean, Sc.D. M.P.H. who is currently the Acting Deputy Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention; Bernard Branson, M.D., the Associate Director for Laboratory Diagnostics in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Robert E. Fullilove, III, Ed.D., the Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences and the co-director of the Community Research Group; and Robert J. Howard, Ph.D., M.P.H., EMBS, President and Chief Executive Officer of Robert J. Howard & Associates (specializing in education, crisis communication, medical and governmental relations and health and security issues).
“As the AIDS epidemic continues to spread across the fabric of our country, it is important for us to stay vigilant in our efforts to develop prevention strategies to meet the needs of those communities most at risk for HIV disease. This conference creates opportunities for agencies to present their strategies and best practices in hopes of enhancing grass root efforts throughout the state of Illinois. As Co-Chair of the Illinois Prevention Community Planning Group, and an HIV positive individual, I am exited about this year's conference and looking forward to facilitating the minority caucus sessions being implemented as part of the data collection process to better develop strategies around targeted interventions,” said Harold Lawary, Co-Chair of the Illinois Prevention Community Planning Group.
Conference topics include:
- HIV/STDs and Methamphetamines
- Prevention Strategies for Black Men Who Have Sex with Men
- Tips & Tricks – HIV Rural Best Practices
- Alcohol, Drugs and Sexual Risk
- Male Condom Use Errors & Problems
- Housing Options in Illinois
- HIV/STD Prevention for Latinos – Strategies and Challenges
- Traditional Chinese Medicine as Treatment for HIV
- Transgender Health and HIV Prevention
This year IDPH was able to provide 155 scholarships to persons living with HIV/AIDS to pay for registration fees to attend the conference, plus two nights lodging. Scholarships are awarded based on income, involvement with HIV/AIDS prevention, service activities in their community and with whom they plan to share conference information.
During 2006, a total of 53,586 cases of chlamydia were reported in Illinois, making it the most frequently reported infectious disease. Females accounted for 74 percent (39,705 of 53,586) of reported cases.
“Especially alarming is the fact that Illinois adolescents age 15 to 19 accounted for 34 percent, or 18,070 of 53,586, of all reported cases in 2006. If women are not treated for Chlamydia, they often face infertility and medical complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy outside the uterus. It is important for communities to work together to help prevent the high rate of infection among women and adolescents,” said Dr. Arnold.
IDPH encourages health care providers to test all sexually active females 15 to 24 years of age at least annually for chlamydia. IDPH, in collaboration with school based health centers, family planning clinics, adult and juvenile correctional centers and other agencies serving females at increased risk for chlamydia infection, performed more than 197,000 tests for chlamydia during 2006 in order to halt disease transmission by identifying and treating infected persons.
IDPH ensures STD diagnostic and treatment services are accessible throughout Illinois; monitors and responds to sexually transmitted disease trends ensuring that persons infected with STDs receive appropriate treatment, counseling and referral; conducts screening programs; funds innovative community based initiatives to prevent and contain STDs such as the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department's Mobile Health Vans and the Howard Brown Health Center's Out Reach Testing and Education Services in suburban Cook County; provides vaccinations for hepatitis A and B to persons attending STD clinics; and provides technical assistance and training to health care providers regarding STD testing, treatment and follow-up.
The number of reported syphilis cases decreased 18 percent in 2006 compared to 2005, but this disease is still a problem in Illinois and disproportionately affects males. Men accounted for 91 percent of reported infectious syphilis cases in 2006, and men self-reporting as men who have sex with men represented 72 percent of the male cases.
“Untreated syphilis can lead to serious long-term complications and death. Persons infected with infectious syphilis can more easily acquire or transmit HIV. During 2006, 50 percent of cases of infectious syphilis among men who have sex with men were co-infected with HIV. Persons infected with both syphilis and HIV also are more likely to develop complications from their syphilis and HIV infection. IDPH recommends all sexually active persons infected with HIV should be tested for syphilis and other STDs at least annually,” said Dr. Arnold.
As of August 2007, there were 33,201 (16,565 HIV; 16,636 AIDS) people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois.
Currently in Illinois, the highest mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS is men who have sex with men. African Americans remain the race most affected by HIV/AIDS.
To decrease the racial disparity, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich launched the BASUAH (Brothers And Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) campaign in September 2005 to address the increase of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community. BASUAH focuses on education, prevention and testing and targets African Americans to specifically address the increase in HIV/AIDS cases reported within that community. This year more than $5 million dollars was made available for the BASUAH campaign, the IDPH Center for Minority Health Services and the newly created African American HIV/AIDS Response Act for culturally sensitive targeted prevention efforts.
Overall, Gov. Blagojevich has increased HIV/AIDS funding by almost 70 percent since taking office – from $46 million in 2003 to more than $78 million in this year’s budget.
Under this Administration, Illinoisans have seen the greatest expansion of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) than ever before. More than $5 million dollars of state funds has been added to the ADAP to insure that no Illinois resident who qualifies is denied access to life-saving medications.
Housing for people with HIV/AIDS has also been at the forefront of this Administration’s fight against HIV. More than $2.5 million dollars of state funds were distributed for this fiscal year to 17 community housing groups across Illinois to insure that people with HIV have stable housing in a supportive environment.
For more information call the Illinois HIV/AIDS and STD hotline 1-800-243-2437 during the following hours: M-F 9:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. Weekends 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. or visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/