HIV Infection in Illinois

Brothers Health Collective (BHC)

ADAP programs serve HIV-infected Illinois State residents who are uninsured or under-insured and meet established criteria. The programs can serve as a transition to Medicaid by providing interim assistance to persons eligible for but not yet enrolled in Medicaid, or assist in meeting spend down requirements. Individuals with third-party insurance who cannot meet the deductibles or co-payments, or whose policies have waiting periods, may enroll and programs will coordinate participant benefits with those of their insurance company. Adolescents who do not have access to the financial or insurance resources of their parents/guardians are eligible for the program. ADAP's demographics have changed over the years to reflect changes in the epidemic. Since the program began, there has been increased enrollment of African-Americans, Hispanics, women, low-income people and released prisoners.

About one-quarter – or 10,000 – of the 40,000 HIV+ Illinois residents do not know they are HIV+, according to state health experts.

Unaware of their HIV infection, undiagnosed individuals spread HIV to others through unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, or other ways, causing 75 percent of new HIV cases. Undiagnosed individuals also do not receive the benefit of medical treatments that can slow the progression of HIV infection into AIDS or other illnesses.

Illinois has the nation's eighth highest cumulative number of AIDS cases, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (www.statehealthfacts.org), with more than 37,000 reported cases and 20,000 deaths since 1981, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health HIV/AIDS Surveillance Unit and Reporting System. The department also estimates there have been about 16,000 additional reported non-AIDS HIV cases, and that more than 8,300 HIV-positive Illinois residents do not know they are HIV-positive.

Due to the high percentage of HIV+ individuals who remain undiagnosed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all individuals age 13-64 be tested for HIV infection. Those wishing not to be tested can choose to decline or “opt-out.”

The state of Illinois has adopted the CDC’s recommendation as law. As a result, the Illinois Department of Public Health expects increased numbers of individuals to be diagnosed as HIV+.

Once these individuals are diagnosed, a BHC Health and Benefits navigator helps them to find the health care and support services they need to achieve optimal health and self-sufficiency. Due to the high prevalence of HIV infection among the prison population, where HIV infection is five times higher than it is in the general population, BHC is teaming with Men and Women Prison Ministry to make a special effort to reach prisoners and parolees through corrections and parole officials.

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