SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–October 24, 2012. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) opened the 21st annual HIV/STD Conference today in Springfield with a condom awareness and distribution campaign designed to decrease the rate of sexually transmitted diseases and new HIV infections in Illinois.
The Illinois “Save Lives, Condomize” campaign is part of a global initiative spearheaded by the United Nations Population Fund and The Condom Project to reduce stigma associated with condom use, and to increase universal access to quality condoms, sexual health education and community mobilization supporting condom use. Condoms are 95 percent effective in preventing STDs and also provide protection against pregnancy.
“At a time when the rates of some sexually transmitted diseases are rising, and rates of new HIV infection are still high in Illinois, our ‘Save Lives, Condomize’ campaign is greatly needed and will be very effective in decreasing STDs and HIV,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Outside of abstinence, latex condoms are still the most effective and least expensive barrier to STDs and HIV.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 1 in 5 of the 1.3 million Americans living with HIV are unaware that they are infected. Illinois ranks 7th nationwide in the diagnosis of HIV infections, and is 5th nationwide in the estimated number of AIDS cases. Adolescents and young adults from 13-29 have the highest rate of HIV infection in Illinois at 37 percent. Also, African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, representing about 14 percent of the population, but half of all new HIV infections in Illinois.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major cause of acute illness and infertility worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 448 million new cases of curable STDs occur annually worldwide among 15-49 year-olds. The 2010 CDC STD Surveillance report ranked Cook County first in the nation with the highest number of reported gonorrhea, primary and secondary syphilis cases; and second in the nation for reported Chlamydia cases. During 2011, every county in Illinois reported at least one case of Chlamydia, with approximately 3/4ths of those cases occurring among 15-24 year-olds.
More than 400 health care providers, practitioners, educators and advocates statewide were expected to attend the two-day “At the Crossroads” conference in Springfield to share information and develop comprehensive strategies to further prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs. Speakers include directors from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), and the CDC, among other national organizations. Sessions will cover topics ranging from national HIV/AIDS policy to analyzing current STD trends among youth.
IDPH is distributing free condoms for “Save Lives, Condomize” through its-funded, partner agencies, and is also encouraging community-wide mobilization efforts to support and encourage condom use.
For more information on HIV/AIDS and STD resources in Illinois, call the HIV/AIDS and STD hotline at 1-800-AID-AIDS (1-800-243-2437). Also use IDPH’s Text 2 Survive mobile service by texting IL + 5-digit ZIP Code to 36363 for the closest free, confidential HIV testing site. This service is also available in Spanish by texting CENTRO + 5-digit ZIP Code to 36363. For a list of STD diagnosis and treatment clinics in Illinois that are distributing free condoms, please visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/health/std/ClinicsCounty.htm