March 9, 2012

City Launches "Take Charge. Take the Test." HIV Prevention Campaign for African-American Women

Campaign Empowers African American Women to Take Control of Their Health; March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Efrat Stein    312.747.9805

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -The City of Chicago Department of Public Health is taking part in National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10, 2012 by launching a new public awareness campaign called "Take Charge. Take the Test."  The campaign aims to increase the number of women who recognize their risk of getting HIV and the importance of making HIV testing a normal part of their routine medical care. The  campaign is being launched in partnership and with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"This campaign empowers African American women with information, encourages them to get tested, and enables them to take charge of their lives regardless of the HIV test result." said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).

African-American woman account for 75% of woman living with HIV in Chicago, and an estimated 65% of them contracted HIV by having unprotected sex with a man.

"Because of HIV prevention and treatment efforts, we have seen a significant decline in new HIV diagnoses overall, but this campaign addresses the need to focus our efforts around trends to stop the spread of HIV.  Testing for HIV and using protection should be part of everybody's health routine. " said Commissioner Choucair.       

HIV prevention is one of the top priorities outlined in Healthy Chicago, the City's public health agenda for making Chicago the healthiest City in the nation.   

The vast majority of new female HIV diagnoses in Chicago are among African-American girls or women (over 80%).  In 2009, 231 females were diagnosed with HIV infection for the first time and 75% of them acquired HIV through sexual contact with a man.  About one-third (31%) were under 30 years of age. In 2009, an African-American female in Chicago was 23 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than a White female and 5 times more likely to be diagnosed than a Hispanic female.

The good news is more and more women are taking control of their lives and are getting tested for HIV.  Confidential, free and low cost treatment, education and support programs are available across the city. CDPH also provides education to prevent HIV transmission, confidential HIV testing and free condoms. For more information visit www.cityofchicago.org/health or call 1-800-AID-AIDS to find a free or low-cost testing site near you.   

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) works to make Chicago a safer and healthier place by working with community partners to promote health, prevent disease, reduce environmental hazards and ensure access to health care for all Chicagoans. Visit us at www.cityofchicago.org/health to learn more about how CDPH is transforming the health of our city.  

Take Charge. Take the Test.™ is a multi-faceted social marketing initiative designed to increase HIV testing among African American women. This effort, which is part of CDC's national Act Against AIDS communications campaign, helps African American women recognize their risk of getting HIV and the need for HIV testing. It also empowers them with information, encourages them to get tested, and enables them to take charge of their lives-whatever their HIV test result. 

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