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Chicago announces decline in new HIV diagnoses

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CHICAGO — The city of Chicago this week announced that new HIV diagnoses had reached a record low in 2019.

The city’s Department of Public Heath said in a press release that there was a total of 734 new HIV diagnoses were reported among Chicago residents in 2018 – the lowest number since 1988. This represents a 60% reduction in new annual cases since 2001 and a 19% reduction since 2014.

“A world where we end the HIV epidemic is within our reach, and these latest findings prove that Chicago is on track to end the HIV epidemic by 2030,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “Chicagoans will not rest until we achieve functional zero, meaning we will continue to increase access to care and services, expand our work with community partners and strengthen the quality of life for every city resident.”

The city said that there were 23,580 people living with HIV in Chicago as of the end of 2017, the most recent year for available statistics.

The department’s 2019 HIV/STI Surveillance Report found that

81% of newly-diagnosed persons were linked to care within one month of diagnosis. Among all PLWH in 2018, 68% accessed care and 41% were retained in medical care. Also, 52% of PLWH in Chicago achieved viral suppression in 2018, compared to 48% in 2017.

“Our funding follows the epidemic to ensure resources are allocated to areas and populations with the greatest needs,” said CDPH Acting Commissioner Allison Arwady, MD, MPH. “Through integration of funding and programing, we can reach more people and make sure no one falls through the cracks.”

While the HIV rate is going down, the CDPH said other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were on the increase:

  • Individuals aged 20-29 years old were the most frequently diagnosed group for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and P&S syphilis.
  • The number of reported STIs is higher among non-Hispanic Blacks and those living in community areas with high economic hardship.

“There is an urgent need for action, and CDPH is working on multiple fronts to break the cycle of STI increases,” said David Kern, CDPH Deputy Commissioner for HIV/STI. “We will continue working closely with communities, providers and researchers to strengthen STI prevention efforts and advance policies and practices that support full attainment of sexual health and wellness for everyone, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”

Chicago operates three STI walk-in clinics in Austin, Lakeview, and Roseland that provide STI testing and treatment at no cost. Residents can also pick up free condoms and learn more about other HIV prevention methods like PrEP. In addition, through a collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools, CDPH provides sexual health education and STI screening to young people across the city.

Learn more about STI screening and treatment at www.saveyours.org and www.chataboutit.org.

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