December 1, 1998
WORLD AIDS DAY OBSERVANCE
SPRINGFIELD, IL As part of the nation's 11th annual observance of World AIDS Day, the Capitol dome lights and lights at state government buildings in Springfield and Chicago will be dimmed for 15 minutes in tribute to those living with HIV and AIDS and those who died from AIDS.
"We are encouraged by the recent progress in treating HIV and AIDS, but we must continue our aggressive efforts to prevent the further spread of this disease," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "Today is a day for remembering those who have lost their lives to AIDS and those who are living with this terrible disease, but it also is a day to recommit to the fight against HIV and AIDS."
Dome and holiday lights at the Capitol will be turned off at 6:45 p.m., as will lights at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago, and the State of Illinois Building, 160 N. LaSalle St. Lights at the Illinois Department of Public Health, 525-535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield also will be dimmed. The Illinois observance coincides with the dimming of lights at public and private buildings throughout the nation, including the White House.
Gov. Jim Edgar has proclaimed today as AIDS Awareness Day and at a noon ceremony in the Capitol rotunda Dr. Lumpkin will honor two individuals and an organization with the state's fifth annual World AIDS Day Award for exceptional merit.
Keith Hart, a 16-year-old high school student from Decatur, will receive an individual award for his commitment to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS among his peers and his community. He helped raise money for the AIDS Stop Gap Fund for the Macon County AIDS Task Force and is the youngest member of an east central Illinois regional HIV/AIDS prevention planning group, representing gay youth.
A posthumous award will be presented to Liz Keets, the mother of John Keets, who died with AIDS in 1994. Keets founded the John Keets Foundation for AIDS Research and Education in Canton and organized an annual AIDS march to raise thousands of dollars for the foundation. He was a nationally known AIDS spokesperson and brought the issue of AIDS and HIV to rural communities and youth.
The organizational award will be presented to South Side Health Center of Chicago for being at the forefront in the battle against HIV/AIDS for more than a decade. The agency targets the under-served and disproportionately affected populations using street and community outreach, prevention case management and peer-to-peer, group and individual prevention counseling.
Individuals to receive honorable mention awards are Brooke Wells, president of AIDS Consciousness Today, a student group at Knox College that distributes HIV risk reduction information.
Organizations receiving honorable mention awards are the Youth Drop-In Center and Street Outreach Program at Howard Brown Clinic in Chicago, which provides HIV/AIDS education, HIV counseling and testing and sexually transmitted disease screening, and the Peer Helpers at Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, which began an AIDS Awareness Week at the high school.
Nominations for the awards were solicited from local health departments, community organizations, service providers and citizens.
Since 1981, there have been 21,514 reported cases of AIDS in Illinois. Of those diagnosed with AIDS in the state, 64 percent have died. Illinois has the sixth highest total of AIDS cases in the nation.
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