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The community is invited to a World AIDS Day Awareness Event on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at the Carbondale Town Pavilion from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. to increase awareness and education. 2015 marks the 27th anniversary of World AIDS Day. First observed in 1988, World AIDS Day was initiated by health ministries from around the world calling for a spirit of social tolerance, greater awareness and the reduction of stigma.

Today, we still have the same urgent message of tolerance, compassion, greater awareness and reducing stigma. You might ask: why are we still in need of the observance of World AIDS Day? The answer is simple: HIV is still among us in each and every community. Of every 10 people who have HIV, six are unaware. People need to know their HIV status and reduce their risk. The community has grown complacent. Yes, it’s true that deaths from AIDS have declined, but transmission remains steady. Only those who know their status and seek regular medical care are living longer. Many of those newly diagnosed HIV+ are presenting with very weakened immune systems and already have a multitude of other health issues.

In southern Illinois over the last 3 years, we have seen an increase of newly diagnosed HIV cases. These cases are southern Illinoisans, and not people who have re-located to our area. New cases in southern Illinois are higher than the state data, in that the highest growing groups are ages 13-24 years of age. In southern Illinois, 86 percent of our new cases are within the ages of 15-24 years of age. More troubling is the health status of those who are newly diagnosed. 31 percent of all new cases already have symptoms of a weakened immune system. “Our new cases are younger and sicker than we have typically seen,” says Paula Clark, Director of HIV Services at the Jackson County Health Department. 

The message is clear! You must protect yourself!

  • Encourage your friends and family to get tested for STD’s including HIV!
  • Get yourself tested!
  • Know your sex partners’ history.
  • Practice safer sex every time!
  • Talk to your kids about safer choices!
  • Have condoms available for yourself, friends and family!

Testing is available through your physician or your local health department. We are striving to have everyone know their status and to ensure that everyone who is HIV+ gets the care they need. For those who are HIV+, getting treatment adds years to their life and decreases the spread of the disease to others.

For more information: Paula Clark (618) 684-3143, ext. 160

The Southern IL HIV Care Connect office, located at Jackson County Health Department, is the provider of HIV services for the lower 19 counties of Illinois. This geographic area covers roughly from Mt. Vernon down to Cairo. This program assists HIV+ people seek out healthcare, medications, transportation and many other supportive services. For assistance, call 877-745-1424