World AIDS Day - Nigerian Artist Unveils Mural created by Springfield Students - Vision of a
Recent increase in HV/AIDS cases in teenagers highlights need for prevention education
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today celebrated the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day with Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin and Nigerian artist Ibiyinka Olufemi Alao as they helped Springfield students unveil a mural they created focusing on health. The Illinois Department of Public Health sponsored Alao’s trip to Springfield to help educate children about risky behaviors and HIV/AIDS. Alao will also speak about HIV in Nigeria during World AIDS Day events later today at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Events will be broadcast over Second Life radio and will include free HIV Rapid Testing and a BASUAH (Brothers And Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) in Second Life dance marathon.
“Because HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic, we were delighted Ibiyinka Olufemi Alao was able to join the Department to celebrate World AIDS Day and express the health concerns of our youth,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “By educating our youth today about HIV/AIDS, we will help them battle the disease in the future. And our youth will not only battle HIV/AIDS in Illinois and the U.S. – but around the world in places like Nigeria and other African countries where hundreds of thousand of people die of AIDS each year.”
Alao has toured the country bringing awareness to HIV/AIDS. His painting have been exhibited at the Harvard Business School, Indianapolis Art Center, the Martin Luther King Art Center, the African Unity Festival, the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C., the United Nations Headquarters in New York as well as the Empire State Building.
“We are grateful to the Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services for sponsoring the visit of Ibiyinka Alao. Our students will benefit from the opportunity to learn from and work with such a renowned artist,” said Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., Superintendent of Springfield Public School District 186.
Recently there has been a shift in the HIV/AIDS epidemic toward teenagers and young adults. From 2003 to 2007, HIV diagnoses in 13-19 year-olds increased 47 percent. Illinois is also following a national trend with the highest mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS in men who have sex with men, and African Americans being the race most affected by HIV/AIDS.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 35,000 Illinoisans have been reported with an AIDS diagnosis, but the number of new diagnoses of AIDS has decreased steadily since 2005. As of October 2008, there were 34,564 (17,262 HIV; 17,302 AIDS) people reported as living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois.
Since taking office, the Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’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.