Department of Public Health renewing emphasis on HIV awareness

The Illinois Department of Public Health says when it comes to HIV awareness, sexually-active women and young girls are often overlooked.  The Department putting a renewed emphasis on teaching women to protect themselves, and how to get tested.

Sabrina Miller says more than 34-thousand Illinoisans have HIV as of 2010, the last time HIV statistics were compiled in Illinois.  Miller says two-thirds are women, which comes to more than 22-thousand.

The Illinois Department of Public Health's spokesperson says especially for young girls, it's difficult to start a conversation about HIV. But even though they're reluctant to talk.  “We know that the disease is still here and it's still impacting many people. So we don't want people to think it's gone away, we don't want people to think that if they need access to care and resources that it's not there,” says Miller.  Resources include personal doctors, local health departments, and free clinics for testing and for tips on staying HIV-free. Miller says a disproportionately-high number of African Americans are also affected. Though they make up only 14-percent of Illinois' population, they account for half of the state's HIV cases.