SPRINGFIELD — Illinois HIV Care Connect (IHCC) launched its “Speaking Up About HIV Stigma” campaign on Tuesday.
In a blog post, the organization said that the stigmatization of persons living with HIV persists today, despite prevention and treatment breakthroughs.
The campaign features people living with HIV speaking about HIV stigma, how it has affected their lives, and what they believe needs to be done to overcome it. Individuals wishing to add their voices on this topic can comment on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using @ILCareConnect #HIVStigma #SpeakingUp, or can complete a brief confidential survey about HIV stigma.
“Our ‘Speaking Up About HIV Stigma’ campaign provides persons living with HIV a forum for talking about an important topic,” said Michael Maginn, the IHCC project manager. “We hope to create a public conversation to discuss issues relating to HIV stigma, how it remains unnecessarily harmful to those living with HIV, and what we can do to make HIV stigma a thing of the past.”
“Speaking Up About HIV Stigma” is the seventh campaign from Illinois HIV Care Connect on issues affecting persons living with HIV in Illinois. The previous campaigns centered on HIV and mental health, staying in HIV care, viral suppression, HIV treatment as prevention, social determinants of health, and HIV and youth. Illinois HIV Care Connect is funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“I feel like I’m living through three epidemics: COVID, racism and HIV,” said Chris Wade, who provided a testimonial as a person living with HIV for the campaign. “When you look at all this, you can see that we’re finding ourselves in the same position, dealing with the same population. There’s clear indications of the social determinants of health within certain populations, and we need to start addressing that.”
“In all of our campaigns, our goal is to create a better acceptance of HIV as a condition that can be prevented and treated, just as any other medical condition,” said Jeffery Erdman, associate executive director of the Illinois Public Health Association,” which administers the program. “Persons with HIV can live long, healthy and fulfilling lives, thanks to improvements in care and the dedication of healthcare professionals who treat and support them.”