Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health Announce Decline in New HIV Diagnoses and Increased Funding Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

December 1, 2020

HIV cases reached lowest rate since 1988, while STI cases have generally increased

Alicia McGhee

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that a total of 652 new HIV diagnoses were reported among Chicago residents in 2019 – the lowest number since 1988. This represents a 14% decrease compared to 2018 (760 new diagnoses) and a 29% decrease since 2015 (913 new diagnoses). Declines in new diagnoses were recorded for all genders, all age groups, and among Black, white, Latinx, and Asian Chicagoans. This year, CDPH has also increased funding to support people living with and vulnerable to HIV in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The 2019 HIV data confirms that we have continued to make critical progress toward ending the HIV epidemic in the next ten years,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “In support of our vision for Healthy Chicago 2025, we remain committed to continuing our focused work on reducing HIV transmission and providing high quality prevention and care to all who need it.”
In 2020, CDPH launched Healthy Chicago 2025 (HC 2025), a plan that reflects the work of hundreds of community members and organizations in the city. Under HC 2025, CDPH is committed to developing new approaches that will address health disparities in priority populations – Black, Latinx, and low-income Chicagoans – including HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI).
CDPH’s annual HIV/STI Surveillance Report, which will be released by the end of the year, presents cases of HIV, AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and congenital syphilis. This year’s report also highlights the HIV epidemic among the transgender population and provides some insight into how HIV is impacting transgender persons. This report provides data useful for service providers, community organizations, program planners, policymakers, and the general public.
“At CDPH, we continue to work with healthcare and community-based partners to ensure broad coverage of HIV services across the city, particularly for residents on the South and West sides. Because of recent changes we made to our HIV services system, we were able to quickly build on its infrastructure to support residents living with and vulnerable to HIV during the COVID pandemic,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “We supported the use of telehealth by our HIV healthcare providers, expedited program enrollment for clients, as well as provided more funds for housing and living expenses to ensure those living with and vulnerable to HIV were not further burdened during this pandemic.”
In response to COVID-19, CDPH increased funding to support the HIV Resource Coordination Hub, which is a one-of-a-kind program that is a single source of information, referrals, and linkages for persons living with HIV and vulnerable to HIV who are in need; expanded emergency financial assistance, providing more than $600,000 to people living with and vulnerable to HIV, which included funds to support food/basic needs, utilities, internet/cell phone, medical expenses, and rent/mortgage; launched a new housing project – Hotel to Home – for people living with HIV who are experiencing homelessness; and consistently coordinated with IDPH to ensure there were no interruptions to the HIV drug supply.
“All these COVID-related enhancements were possible because of the comprehensive and coordinated system of services we launched last year, including medical homes for people living with and vulnerable to HIV, housing programs, and case management,” said Arwady. “Our new system is person-focused and minimizes the need for complicated navigation between organizations.”
At the beginning of this year, CDPH awarded more than $40 million to over 60 community-based and healthcare organizations to address the barriers and challenges facing these vulnerable populations. In alignment with the State’s Getting to Zero plan, these funds are intended to achieve two primary outcomes: increasing viral suppression among persons living with HIV and increasing use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a one-pill-a-day program that prevents HIV infection among those vulnerable to HIV.
According to the 2020 report, 82% of persons newly diagnosed with HIV in Chicago were linked to HIV medical care within 1 month of HIV diagnosis, and 92% of persons newly diagnosed were linked to medical care within 12 months last year.
  • A total of 19,457 individuals had been diagnosed with HIV through 2018 and were living with HIV in 2019, yielding a rate of 720.9 per 100,000 population.
*Note: all HIV prevalent case calculations in 2019 were based on the address of current residence instead of address of residence at diagnosis.
Among all people in Chicago living with HIV in 2019, 66% accessed care and 42% were retained in medical care. Forty-nine percent of people living with HIV in Chicago achieved viral suppression in 2019, a slight decrease when compared to 2018 data (52%). HIV new diagnosis data has been calculated using a methodology that aligns with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).
HIV continues to disproportionately impact certain groups more than others, including males; gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men; and Black communities. In 2019:
  • There were 5.3 times as many new HIV diagnoses in men than in women.
  • Individuals aged 20-29 years old represented the largest percentage of all new HIV diagnoses at 39%.
  • Non-Hispanic (NH) Blacks represented 56% of new HIV diagnoses, 57% of AIDS diagnoses, and 57% of late HIV diagnoses.
Primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis and congenital syphilis (CS) cases decreased in 2019, while chlamydia and gonorrhea continue to increase in Chicago. According to the 2020 report:
  • In 2019, a total of 32,126 chlamydia cases, 14,307 gonorrhea cases, and 814 P&S syphilis cases - a 7.7 percent decrease from 2018 at 877 cases – were reported to the CDPH.
  • In 2019, individuals aged 20-29 years old were the most frequently diagnosed group for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • Number of reported sexually transmitted infections (STIs) was highest among NH Blacks: 49% of reported chlamydia cases, 57% of reported gonorrhea cases, and 44% of reported P&S syphilis cases.
  • There were 1.4 times as many reported chlamydia cases in women than men, 2.0 times as many reported gonorrhea cases in men than women, and 8.3 times as many reported P&S syphilis cases in men than women. Men who have sex with men (MSM)continued to account for the majority 54% of P&S syphilis cases in 2019, but 26% ofthese cases have an unknown transmission risk category.
  • All community areas with the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea included areas considered to have a high economic hardship.
  • In Chicago, there were 9 reported cases of CS in 2019- an 18% decrease from the previous year.
  • NH Black mothers accounted for approximately 67% of the reported congenital syphilis cases in 2019.
Learn more about the HIV Resource Coordination Hub at 1-844-HUB-4040 or visit: