Getting to Zero Illinois wants public feedback

SPRINGFIELD — Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) is looking for public feedback on their draft plan to eliminate new HIV infections in Illinois. From the website:
Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) has developed a draft plan for 2019-2023, detailing a path toward virtually eliminating new HIV transmissions and improving overall health care access in Illinois by 2030. Getting to Zero means virtually zero new HIV infections and zero people living with HIV who are not receiving treatment — a goal that will depend on major proposed changes across the health care and human services spectrum. The GTZ-IL Draft Plan can be viewed in its entirety at gtzillinois.hiv/draft. Public comment on the draft plan is welcome and open until Jan.

Spreading the word about PrEP in the Prairie State

By Matt Simonette

SPRINGFIELD — Jeffery Erdman and Michael Maginn, both officials with the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA), are working hard to make sure that providers, advocates and community members across the entirety of Illinois know about PrEP resources. Erdman, IPHA’s assistant director for programs and compliance, said that the PrEP intervention had been on the agency’s radar for about five years. “We have been working with all of our providers, building PrEP clinics at their sites or, if they can’t build them, hopefully they can make referrals to providers in their communities who are prescribing PrEP.” He added, “We’ve done a ton of work—we’ve been to Rockford [for example], all the way down to Murphysboro, in Jackson County in southern Illinois.”

County health departments and community-based organizations in varied locales have been receptive to the message. There are now dedicated clinics, or at least accessible resources, in Lake, DuPage and Jackson Counties, among others, and a clinic is planned for a November opening in Sangamon County, where Springfield is located. Maginn, who is IPHA’s HIV program manager/prevention lead agent, said, “The problem is, outside of the Chicago area, we’re dealing with rural areas, [where it is] more difficult to find providers who are willing to write prescriptions for PrEP, and it’s hard to get the patient to the facility in order to fulfill the obligations of the medication, such as quarterly testing.”

Physicians who aren’t infectious disease specialists often don’t feel qualified to write prescriptions for Truvada—the oral medication primarily used as a PrEP intervention—and may wish to refer their patients to such a specialist, according to Maginn.