|February 7, 2008|
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In honor National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced two new efforts to encourage HIV testing. An additional mobile health vans for free testing and a new e-learning program will strengthen the efforts of BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS). Launched by the Governor in 2005, BASUAH is an aggressive public awareness campaign to address the alarming trend of infection among the African American community in Illinois. African Americans represent 15 percent of the state’s population, but account for half of all newly reported HIV cases.
“As young people and African-Americans continue to be infected with HIV and AIDS at an alarming rate, we keep looking for new ways to promote education, prevention, and testing,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Through BASUAH, we are fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS at the most critical point. And now, the additional wellness van and creative programs to engage college students, will help raise awareness and encouraging even more testing.”
The state now has four mobile health vans which travel to areas across Illinois that lack medical resources and offer free HIV testing. The State has administered 1,525 rapid HIV tests from the Wellness on Wheels vans. And people visiting the van can receive their HIV test results within half an hour with the use of rapid HIV testing.
The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced a new technology learning program with the University of Illinois at Springfield and Chicago State University. The Second Life Interactive Technology Learning Modules is a video game designed to educate students on best ways to communicate about HIV prevention.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is also taking an opportunity to remind the public that while programs targeting communities of color are a top priority, seniors are another group in our community that needs to hear the message of HIV prevention.
“Although we do not think of seniors facing the same risk factors, the truth is that they, too, are at risk for this disease,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director. “Older Americans generally know less about HIV/AIDS than younger people, including how the disease is spread and the importance of prevention.”
Today the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Center for Minority Health Services will host seniors at an HIV/AIDS Awareness luncheon and program at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield.
In honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, many more events will be held across the state. The events are due in large part to the funding provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to the host agencies. A list of IDPH funded events accompanies this release.
For more information, visit www.basuah.org or 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.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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