Free HIV Testing in Illinois

Free and low-cost testing locations near you.

Illinois lies in the Midwestern region of the United States. Based on having the largest land area, Illinois has been ranked 25th f the 50 U.S. states having the sixth largest population in the entire country.

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According to the census data, the total population of Illinois as of 2019 was 12 million. The state is populated mainly by white Americans, followed by Black or African Americans, Native Americans, etc. The state of Illinois has the fifth-largest gross domestic product in the country. Chicago alone has numerous industries, agricultural productivity, and a diversified economic base in general.

Why Testing Matters?

Every sexually active individual must know their HIV status since getting tested for HIV is the first step for people living with HIV to receive care/treatment and this is the only way to control the spread of infection. Taking HIV medication helps people living with HIV to live a healthy and long life and protect their sex partners from contracting the virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 85% of people infected with HIV in the country know that they have the virus but 15% or 162,500 of them aren’t aware of their health status. About 40% of new HIV infection are caused by them. Around half of the people living with HIV have had the virus for at least three years before getting diagnosed. So, you can imagine how many individuals they could have gotten infected meanwhile. Therefore, it is important to make HIV screening a mandatory part of your routine medical checkup. This is particularly important for people having multiple partners and those who have been with an HIV infected partner.

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HIV in Illinois

According to the CDC state health profile, Illinois was the 6th most impacted US state among the 50 states for having the biggest HIV diagnoses in 2015. The situation got worse by 2018 when, according to a report by the AIDSVu, there were a total of 35,841 people living with HIV in Illinois. During the same year, the total number of new diagnoses of HIV in the state was 1361 adults and adolescents.

Considering the data from the state health profile of Illinois, an estimated number of 1,472 adults and adolescents were newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2015. Considering the same data, Illinois ranked 6th among the 50 U.S states, having the largest HIV diagnoses in 2015. Chicago, which is a metropolitan city, has the biggest number of HIV cases in the state.

According to the CDC, one in every seven HIV-positive individuals is not aware of their HIV status. Around 40 percent of the newly diagnosed cases are due to individuals who do not know their HIV status. As per the estimates released by Illinois HIV Connect, only 13 percent of the people in Illinois that make up around 5,765 individuals of the total people living with HIV in Illinois are not aware of their HIV status. Comparing the data from 2015 and 2018, the number of undiagnosed residents has decreased as more people are getting tested for HIV.

In Chicago, which is the biggest city of the state, according to the HIV surveillance report, In 2015 Chicago was reported to have 913 new diagnoses and the number of newly diagnosed cases in 2018 was 760 cases. In 2019, the numbers reduced to 652, which was the lowest number since the last two decades. Comparing the data from 2018 and 2019, there was a 14% decrease in HIV cases in Chicago.

HIV initiatives in Illinois

Since HIV has been termed a global epidemic, health authorities are working to reduce the number of cases of HIV across the United States. There have been federal initiatives like the Ryan White Part B program and AIDS Drug Assistance Program, ADAP that provide funding to state-based programs to help create awareness, provide essential treatment, etc., to all patients of HIV, especially those belonging to the low-income groups.

AIDS Chicago works for the betterment of individuals with HIV in the biggest cities of the state. The organization works to provide advocacy, housing, health care services, including the provision of the essential treatment and health insurance to the people living with HIV. the organization also has a knowledge and collaboration center which is responsible for creating awareness in the general public regarding the benefits of early testing, diagnosis and the ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

Getting to Zero Illinois, as the name suggests, is yet another organization that works towards reducing the number of HIV cases in the state. The organization provides essential treatment, medications, and case management facilities to people living with HIV in Illinois.

The Illinois HIV action alliance, IHAA, is an agency working towards the bigger cause of ending social stigma and civilization surrounding HIV. The agency works towards advocating the rights of HIV-positive individuals.

Illinois department of healthcare and family services provides medical services through managed care services, medications, housing, and nursing facilities to HIV patients. Their services also include home-delivered meals and a personal emergency response system, to name a few.

Illinois’ Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) is a surveillance project launched by the Illinois Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The state is among the 26 project areas nationwide that receive funding to conduct MMP.

For this project, a sample of six hundred HIV infected individuals 18 years or above, 200 from outside of Chicago and 400 from within Chicago, are selected every year from the National HIV Surveillance System. The project then determines local and national estimates for people in care for HIV. The researchers gather information on numerous vectors, including behaviors, type and quality of care received, clinical outcomes, and whether they were satisfied with the HIV care/prevention services.

Age, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

According to a report by AIDSVu, the total number of people living with HIV in Illinois in 2018 were 35, 841. 79.9% of the people living with HIV were males, while 20.1% were females. The rate of people living with HIV in Illinois per 100,000 in 2018 was 335. Of the total cases, 46.1% were reported in black Americans, 20.1% in Hispanic or Latin population, and 26. 8% of the cases were reported in white Americans.

31.6% of the cases reported belonged to the age group 55 years and above. 27.1% in age 45 to 54 years, 19.7% from individuals 35 to 44 years, 17.6%, and 3.9% in age groups 25 t0 34 and 13 to 24 respectively.

The number of HIV-related deaths in 2018 in Illinois was 543, while the rate of death in the state per 100,000 population was 5. 77.3% HIV related deaths were reported in males while 22.7% in females.

Considering the newly diagnosed cases, 77.7 of the total cases in males were transmitted due to male sexual contact, 6.8% due to heterosexuality, and 7.5% due to injection use. In females, 74.1% of cases were due to heterosexual contact, and 22.5% were due to contaminated injection/syringe use.

References

Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Jan 13, 2022

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