Getting to Zero: You Can Help End the HIV Epidemic in Illinois
Getting to Zero (GTZ) Illinois is a state-wide initiative to end the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030.
In 2019, 42% of new HIV cases were among Black people, and 29% percent of new cases were among Latinx people according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are still the population most affected by HIV in the United States, with Black and Latinx MSM making up the majority of newly diagnosed HIV cases in 2019. These HIV disparities are rooted in systemic racism and discrimination. Research has shown that Black and Latinx communities have statically lower rates of insurance coverage and lack access to high quality, affordable medical care. LGBTQ+ populations lack of access to affordable housing and experience higher rates of poverty.
In response to these vital needs, GTZ introduced the GTZ Omnibus bill in the Illinois House and Senate (HB4264/SB3632). This legislation includes $15 million of funding statewide to help meet the goals of the GTZ coalition to address disparities in HIV care and end the HIV epidemic by 2030. This initiative will not only support the lives of people living with HIV but also strive to create more equity in how resources are allocated to communities, underscoring the importance of racial justice in public health. Some of the critical initiatives and strategies that would be funded by the GTZ Omnibus bill include:
- Increasing access to affordable housing: Increasing access to affordable housing is vital for people living with HIV. Recent data shows that people living with HIV who had stable housing were significantly more likely to be retained in care, prescribed treatment, and attain viral suppression compared to those who were unstably housed.
- Increasing Access to Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP/PEP): PrEP and PEP are highly effective methods to prevent the spread of HIV, but there are stark disparities in uptake and access to these prevention methods among populations most disproportionately impacted by HIV. Funding from the Omnibus bill to expand access among these populations especially will help eliminate these disparities.
- Funding for HIV Stigma Reduction Programs: People living with HIV are often stigmatized for their HIV status, sexual orientation, gender identity, income levels, or sexual history. This stigma often acts as a barrier to seeking testing and treatment. Investment in programs to reduce stigma and discrimination around HIV will provide safe and affirming ways to seek HIV care.
- Investing in Black-led and Latinx-led Community-Based Organizations: We need to prioritize the needs Black and Latinx communities in order to end the HIV epidemic. Black and Latinx-led community organizations are vital partners in this work, as they have established relationships with the community and are often already providing a wide array of health and social services.
Contact your Illinois state representatives and senators and tell them you support the GTZ-IL Omnibus bill here.
About Getting to Zero:
GTZ is a coalition of organizations including the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Public Health, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Howard Brown Health, and other health and HIV service organizations. The goals of GTZ include reducing new cases of HIV, increasing the number of people living with HIV who are virally suppressed or undetectable, and increasing access and distribution of resources to support the social determinants of health. GTZ has a purposeful focus on improving access to care and health outcomes for communities most affected by the HIV epidemic, including Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities.
For more information on the GTZ initiative and how you can support this important movement, you can got to the GTZ website and sign up for updates on events and advocacy efforts in your area.