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  WINDY CITY TIMES

City presses ahead with plans to reduce HIV infections
by Matt Simonette
2018-08-11

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Health officials discussed efforts to significantly increase the number of Chicagoans accessing primary care after an HIV diagnosis—thereby ultimately increasing the number of virally suppressed individuals, a key goal in ultimately eliminating new HIV transmissions—on Aug. 9 at a press conference at Howard Brown Health's 63rd Street facility.

Healthcare providers can now use a new hotline to connect with Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) personnel after they see a patient with an acute infection, said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita. CDPH would, in turn, help the patient navigate care and resource options.

"It's really to optimize their care and prevent new infections," Morita added.

There have been no recorded instances of a virally suppressed individual transmitting HIV to a partner, so getting as many persons with an acute infection as possible into primary care is a key goal for health officials, advocates and providers. Stakeholders believe that widespread viral suppression in tandem with widespread adoption of pre-exposure prophylaxis ( PrEP ) could potentially eliminate new infections in the state.

Officials also lauded CDPH's collaborations with Howard Brown Health and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since those organizations took over CDPH's HIV/AIDS practices on the South Side and in Uptown, respectively, about five times as many Chicagoans with HIV can access resources, Morita said.

Howard Brown Health President and CEO David Munar added, "Even though we don't have a cure for HIV, science is offering incredible tools to stop HIV in its tracks."

Ashish Ansal of Mile Square Medical Center and Richard Novak of University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine also spoke Aug. 9.


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