'Getting To Zero' Campaign Hopes To End Illinois' HIV Epidemic By 2030

Andy Dahn
June 20, 2018 - 12:56 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Andy Dahn

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Ending Illinois' HIV epidemic by the year 2030 is the goal of a newly launched initiative.

The 'Getting to Zero' campaigned kicked off Wednesday in the Loop. Governor Rauner spoke at the event, acknowledging that "getting Illinois to zero" will take collaboration and it won't be easy.

"We have 38,000 people in Illinois who have AIDS," Rauner told the crowd.

"To end this scourge, to improve the quality of life and the future for everyone in the state of Illinois requires all of us to come together, as a team to solve these problems, take on this challenge, and get to zero by 2030! And I am personally committed to that goal. Let's get to zero by 2030!"

What does “getting to zero” mean?

For the purpose of this initiative, it means zero new HIV infections and zero people living with HIV who are not on treatment. 

From 2006 to 2015, new HIV cases have dropped by 28 percent. Mother-to-child HIV transmission has been nearly eliminated and there are fewer than 1,000 cases a year in Chicago for the first time in two decades. However, not all groups are benefiting equally.

The Governor and health officials said equal access to medication and expanded mental healthcare and substance abuse services will be key.

"We are doing everything we can to help them, but we need to do more. We need equal access to medications like PREP. Equal access for everyone in the state to medications like PREP. We also need to transform the way mental health, substance abuse services are delivered," Rauner said.

The 'Getting to Zero Illinois' campaign will rely on help from Springfield, as well as local and state health officials to bring the numbers down.

When it comes to states with the highest number of residents living with AIDS, Illinois ranks 9th.

"We can do much better than that. We will do better than that," Rauner said.

Scientific modeling suggests that with increased investments in HIV treatment and PrEP, Illinois could see fewer than 100 new HIV cases each year by 2027.