CHICAGO – According to a new report issued this week by the Chicago Department of Public Health, the number of new cases of HIV and AIDS diagnosed annually in Chicago has dropped by 46% and 43% over the past ten years, respectively. In addition, the 2013 HIV/STI Surveillance Report presents new ‘HIV Continuum of Care’ indicators which monitor levels of engagement at each stage of HIV medical care among persons living with HIV. Tracking these data allows CDPH to monitor gaps at each stage and in turn helps HIV prevention and care partners prioritize efforts to get individuals tested, into medical treatment and ultimately virally suppressed.
“Chicago is making real progress in our fight against HIV and other STI’s,” said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. “This report provides our community partners with the information they need to help our residents live longer, healthier lives.”
The report was released at a community roundtable in partnership with the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus at the University of Chicago Center for Care and Discovery. More than 80 individuals representing partner agencies, medical providers and residents were all on hand for a formal presentation of the findings and offered feedback for next steps.
“We need to accelerate the HIV prevention research agenda in Chicago for groups that continue to be impacted,” said Dr. John Schneider, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Global Health Programs at the University of Chicago. “We also need to prevent rebound epidemics in groups where we have seen improvement.”
The report also identifies a consistent trend among young men who have sex with men (MSM). This group has experienced and average 5% annual increase since 2007 in comparison to continuing annual decline for all other age and risk groups.
Additional findings included in the report are:
For the first time, HIV and AIDS surveillance data for transgender persons is included in the report.
“This report shows what we know is true – we are making progress in our fight against HIV, AIDS and other STIs,” said Craig Johnson, Chair of Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus. “It is also clear that there is more work to be done; particularly addressing increasing rates of HIV among young men of color. We will continue to work with CDPH and all our partners in this important effort.”
Community partnerships are a large component of CDPH’s comprehensive HIV prevention program. Annually, CDPH invests more than $34 million in community organizations to provide specialized HIV prevention and care services throughout Chicago, based on part on data provided through CDPH surveillance reports. Last year, CDPH launched its Bridgeworker pilot program to use HIV surveillance data to identify patients who have fallen out of HIV medical care and then attempt to re-engage them. This program was designed to help CDPH identify individual and system-level barriers to retaining patients in care, a key issue identified in the report and highlighted in the continuum of care.
CDPH is also continuing efforts to reduce STI infections among youth. Last year, CDPH partnered with the Chicago Public Schools to offer free education, STI testing, and treatment in high-risk schools. Over the last four years, more than 16,000 Chicago public school students have been screened for STIs, and the program plans to expand to more schools in 2014.
Chicagoland Hope and Spirit Awards were also presented to five individuals from these organizations for their outstanding work in HIV/AIDS in 2013: Diana Beasley, Management Synergistic Inc.; Dan Bigg, Chicago Recovery Alliance; Sherman Bryant, South Side HIV/AIDS Resource Coalition (SSHARC); Rev. Stan Sloan, Chicago House; and Vanessa Smith, South Side Help Center.
The 2013 HIV/STI Surveillance Report is compiled from data collected from the Chicago HIV/AIDS Reporting System, the Chicago STI Surveillance system and the Medical Monitoring Project (MMP).