(Springfield , IL) – The Illinois House on March 25th voted 114-0 to approve legislation that creates a new state advisory council to help state government develop effective HIV/AIDS prevention messages targeting youth.
The legislation, House Bill 3974 sponsored by State Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago) would create the Advisory Council on Youth HIV/AIDS Prevention Messages to advise the Illinois Department of Public Health on effective prevention messages to deter youth from engaging in risky behaviors that lead to HIV/AIDS infections.
“The percentage of Illinois HIV/AIDS infections that is represented by youth has been growing enormously over the last eight years, and that growth, in part, represents a failure of HIV/AIDS prevention messages to effectively reach youth” said Cathy Krieger, President & CEO of The Children’s Place Association based in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
Krieger testified before the House committee.
The Children’s Place Association is Illinois’ only child welfare agency exclusively dedicated to the care of HIV/AIDS infected children and families in Illinois.
On February 27, at the 2nd annual Illinois Youth & HIV/AIDS Forum sponsored by The Children’s Place Association, the Illinois Department of Public Health presented data that revealed that the youth proportion of reported HIV/AIDS infections in Illinois has grown from 10% in 2000 to 20% in 2008—a 100% increase.
“The bottom line is that AIDS awareness initiatives and media prevention messages targeted at young people in Chicago – and African-Americans and Latinos in particular – are not working,” said Krieger. “We think the advisory council proposed by Rep. Soto is a good step to address the problem.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.