June 3, 2013
More than 22,000 HIV-infected people live in Chicago, with more than half of these cases not progressing to AIDS, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). Because of increased public awareness, health officials are diagnosing more HIV cases each year, and fewer people die because they receive early testing and diagnosis and can begin treatment. The Chicagoland National HIV Testing Collaborative is launching a new campaign, "Step Up, Get Tested," setting a goal of testing 500 people on one day. To highlight the campaign's start on June 5,the collaborative will offer free and confidential HIV testing in the Chicago Loop at the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph Street from 10:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. The event will provide free, painless, and rapid HIV tests. The "Step Up, Get Tested" campaign runs through the July 4 weekend, hosting more than 100 free HIV/ hepatitis C testing events throughout the Chicago area, including Lake County.
Since 2001, health professionals have diagnosed more than 1,000 new HIV cases each year in the Chicago area, exceeding AIDS diagnoses numbers. Even though the overall number of HIV infections has declined by nearly 20 percent, HIV continues to be one of the United States' top 10 leading causes of death. CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D., declared, "We are working with partners like the Chicagoland National HIV Testing Day Collaborative to reach the estimated 6,000 Chicagoans who are HIV-positive and unaware of their status, so they can be linked to care and receive treatment necessary to living a long, healthy life while decreasing the chances of transmission to others."
Anthony Galloway, chairperson of the Chicagoland National HIV Testing Collaborative, explained that with the advent of rapid testing products, health officials can provide an easy, free, and quick testing experience. At the June 5 "Step Up, Get Tested" event, certified HIV screeners will use the OraQuick HIV test, for which results can be provided in 20 minutes. Health officials will provide counseling to those with preliminary positive results. Orasure Technologies, Wet Lubricants, Walgreens, CDPH, and the Illinois Department of Public Health are among a group of sponsors for this month-long testing campaign. For more information about "Step Up, Get Tested," visit www.stepupgettested.com.