October 27, 2010
Annual State of Illinois HIV/STD Conference Highlights Youth and Young Adult Populations
HIV/STD prevention and care workers discuss the latest in prevention, research and treatment
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Youth, men who have sex with men (MSM) and African Americans are the most at risk populations for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and STDs (sexually transmitted disease) and are the focus for the 19th annual HIV/STD conference, “Creative Strategies for Changing Times.”
As of September 2010, there were 32,923 (15,163 HIV; 17,760 AIDS) people reported as living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois. The most recent Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) statistics show a 10 percent increase in HIV diagnosis among youth and young-adults ages 13-29 years. Statistics also reveal Illinois teenagers aged 15-19 years accounted for 35 percent of reported chlamydia cases and 30 percent of reported gonorrhea cases.
“The latest numbers for youth and young adults being diagnosed with HIV and/or an STD reinforces the continued need for prevention and education efforts targeted toward younger generations, especially toward young men who have sex with men,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Assistant Director Teresa Garate, PhD. “Each community is different, so approaches may vary, but it’s important groups and organizations work together to develop a community plan to reduce the high rate of infection among our younger populations.”
According to the latest U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, 47 percent of high school students reported having had sex and 7.4 percent reported sexual intercourse before age 13.
Young women who are not treated for chlamydia or gonorrhea often face infertility and medical complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy outside the uterus. The IDPH encourages health care providers to test all sexually active females 15 to 25 years of age at least annually for chlamydia. The Department, in collaboration with school based health centers, family planning clinics, correctional centers and other agencies serving females at increased risk for chlamydia infection, performed more than 165,000 tests for chlamydia last year in an effort to halt disease transmission and prevent infertility.
The Department is working closely with organizations that serve men who have sex with men (MSM) to provide prevention education, screening and partner services in an effort to reduce the high rates of HIV and syphilis affecting this population. The proportion of male HIV cases attributed to MSM increased from 73 percent in 2005 to 81 percent in 2009. During 2009, males accounted for 88 percent of reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis with 69 percent of male cases self-identifying as MSM. Especially concerning is the increasing rate of HIV infection among MSM in Illinois, excluding Chicago, who are also infected with syphilis. In 2009, the percent of MSM cases known to be co-infected with HIV and syphilis was 54 percent compared to 41 percent in 2008.
Reducing high infection rates among racial and ethnic groups has been a major initiative of IDPH for the past several years. Despite progress in a number of areas, gonorrhea and HIV infections continue to disproportionately affect African Americans. While accounting for only 15 percent of the population in Illinois, African Americans accounted for 74 percent of reported gonorrhea cases, and 52 percent of reported HIV cases last year. In 2009, the rate of gonorrhea among African Americans was roughly 786 per 100,000 people, 29 times higher than the rate among Caucasians, which was 27 per 100,000 people. The rate of HIV among African Americans last year was 10 times higher than among Caucasians, approximately 66 African Americans per 100,000 people, compared to the rate among Caucasians, six per 100,000 people.To help make testing easier, the Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services launched the HIV/AIDS Testing Center Locator Text 2 Survive, available in both English and Spanish. Using a mobile phone, any Illinoisan can send a text with the message “IL” for English, or “centro” for Spanish, plus their five digit zip code to the phone number 36363. That person will instantly receive a confidential text message back to their phone with the nearest HIV/AIDS testing center contact information. To help spread the benefits of getting tested, that person can then send their friends a text message urging them to get tested as well.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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