Press Release

March 26, 2006


IDPH launches BASUAH Sunday to help fight HIV/AIDS

Churches all over Illinois take time to inform and educate congregations about BASUAH and HIV/AIDS

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Today approximately 70 congregations received BASUAH pamphlets, bookmarks and information about the BASUAH Ambassador peer education program during church services for the kick-off of BASUAH Sunday. BASUAH Sunday is another opportunity for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to educate communities about of HIV/AIDS and prevention and will be held again on April 30, May 28 and June 25, 2006.

BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) is Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, which focuses on education, prevention and testing of HIV/AIDS. The program targets African Americans because of the number of HIV cases reported within that community in Illinois. In 2004, African Americans made up more than half of the newly reported HIV cases in the state while they only represent 15 percent of the state’s population.

“Understanding that the African-American churches are, in most cases, the focal point of the community, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is partnering with faith-based congregations to identify and train youth as BASUAH ambassadors,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director.

Youth will be trained by the Red Cross as peer educators to provide HIV prevention messages to other youth, not only in their congregation, but also throughout the community. Youth will be encouraged to know and understand the threat of HIV to themselves and others, be able to identify and change risky behavior, and encourage other youth to know their status by being tested.

“The majority of HIV infections among African Americans are individuals under the age of 40, so it is critical to reach the youth community with prevention messages and the importance of getting tested,” said Dr. Whitaker. “Our hope is that today’s youth are reminded that HIV is not going away and they can prevent themselves from being a statistic.”

IDPH is working with clergy on a strategic plan to address the HIV/AIDS problem in the African American faith-based community. The plan will identify obstacles that the faith-based community faces in providing a network for delivery of HIV/AIDS prevention messages and formulate solutions. Congregations that have provided leadership in this area will display and discuss “best practice models.”

For more information on HIV/AIDS visit or call the Illinois HIV/AIDS and STD hotline 1-800-243-2437.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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