Springfield, Ill. – Sept. 17, 2019 – In an effort to encourage HIV testing and treatment among Illinois youth, Illinois HIV Care Connect today introduced the confidential Y.O.U.T.H. Quiz, with a version for young people living with HIV and a version for young people who are HIV-negative. Those taking the quiz will be directed to educational content to learn more and will earn a chance to win a $25 VISA gift card. All young people, whether they are living with HIV or not, are encouraged to take the quiz.
Y.O.U.T.H. stands for Youth Overcoming Undetected and Treatable HIV. Once HIV is detected through a simple blood test, the virus can be successfully treated with anti-HIV medications. However, youth living with HIV are less likely than older individuals living with HIV to be linked to care in a timely manner and to achieve viral suppression through successful HIV treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Y.O.U.T.H. Quiz is the first step in Illinois HIV Care Connect’s HIV and Youth Campaign, which is designed to help Illinois youth to understand how HIV is transmitted from one person to another and how the virus can be successfully treated with medications and staying in care.
HIV and youth was chosen as a focus for the campaign by the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), said the IPHA’s Jeffery Erdman. He and IPHA colleague Michael Maginn manage the Illinois HIV Care Connect program, which is funded by IDPH. “Youth aged 13 to 24 make up 21 percent of new HIV diagnoses in the United States,” Erdman explained. “Most of these diagnoses are transmitted by male-to-male sexual contact among people of color.”
For this reason, the campaign will make a special effort to reach out to this demographic through social media images and messages, as well as through outreach efforts to organizations serving youth throughout the state. Illinois HIV Care Connect is promoting the quiz on its website (hivcareconnect.com) and on its Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest social media platforms through the use of downloadable images depicting youth in various Illinois locations.
Due to advances in medication, treatment and awareness, the goal of getting to zero HIV infections is within reach. Using HIV treatment as prevention among people living with HIV and among HIV-negative individuals with HIV-positive partners has contributed greatly to this progress.
Illinois HIV Care Connect can help people living with HIV gain the assistance they need
People living with HIV who enroll in Illinois HIV Care Connect may qualify for programs that may provide assistance in overcoming social and economic obstacles. Among these programs are Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the ADAP Medication Assistance Program (MAP), the CHIC Premium Assistance Program (PAP), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), and others.
“By enrolling in Illinois HIV Care Connect, people living with HIV gain access to the benefits of all of these programs at once,” Erdman said.
Depending on a person’s needs and income level, these benefits may include medical, dental and mental health care, including treatment for substance abuse and child health care; assistance paying health insurance premiums or purchasing HIV medications; and obtaining necessary food, housing, utilities, and medically related transportation. An Illinois HIV Care Connect case manager helps enrollees to determine which benefits they qualify for.
People living with HIV in Illinois may contact the closest of seven regional offices to learn more about how Illinois HIV Care Connect can help them live healthy with HIV. Not all services may be available, and the nature of services may vary, by regional office.
About Illinois HIV Care Connect
Illinois HIV Care Connect is a statewide network providing medical case management, health care and support services to people living with HIV. About 37,000 Illinois residents are estimated to be living with HIV. Illinois HIV Care Connect lead agency offices located in Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Belleville, Murphysboro, Champaign and Chicago serve people living with HIV in all of Illinois’ 102 counties. https://hivcareconnect.com