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December 1, 1999

Ryan Announces World Aids Day Observation

SPRINGFIELD -- As a visual demonstration of the state's commitment to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, Governor George H. Ryan today announced the Capitol dome lights and lights at other state government buildings will be dimmed for 15 minutes this evening in conjunction with the nation's12th annual observance of World AIDS Day.

"This is a day to reflect on the terrible toll in lives that AIDS has taken and to remember those who are living with this terrible disease," Ryan said. "It is also a day to express our commitment to continue the efforts to prevent further HIV infection and AIDS. Recent progress in treating those infected with HIV and AIDS has offered encouragement, but there are still too many people becoming infected with HIV."

In Illinois, there have been 22,778 reported cases of AIDS and, of those diagnosed with the disease, 14,194, or 62 percent have died. Illinois has the sixth highest total of AIDS cases in the nation. An estimated 28,000 to 38,000 others may be infected and living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Dome and holiday lights at the Capitol will be turned off at 6:45 p.m., as will lights in Chicago at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., and the State of Illinois Building, 160 N. LaSalle St. Lights at the Illinois Department of Public Health, 525-535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, also will be dimmed. The Illinois observance coincides with the dimming of lights tonight at public and private buildings throughout the nation, including the White House.

Gov. Ryan has proclaimed today as AIDS awareness day and asked Illinoisans to focus on the 1999 World AIDS Day theme -- End the Silence, Listen, Learn, Live!

"The theme calls on all of us, but especially young people, to open communication about HIV/AIDS in order to confront ignorance, misinformation, fear and discrimination that perpetuate the spread of this disease," Ryan said.

In addition to the symbolic dimming of the lights, Dr. John R. Lumpkin, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, today honored an individual and an organization with the state's sixth annual World AIDS Day Award for exceptional merit.

Dr. Patricia Langehennig, medical director of Regional Care Association of Joliet, received the individual award for her work to reduce the stigma associated with HIV infection, to provide care with a personal touch and to deliver prevention messages to communities at risk.

The organizational award was presented to the Carroll County Peer Educators of Sterling. The program staff consists of four high school students - Angela Rippy, Keasha Huren, Mindy Pettenger and Katy Queckboerner - who volunteer their time to provide HIV/AIDS information to their peers and to the community.

An individual honorable mention award went to Martin Gonzales-Rojas, Chicago, for coordinating a weekly support group for Latino gay men, organizing community forums and developing HIV prevention links with numerous Latino agencies.

An organizational honorable mention was presented to the McLean County AIDS Task Force, Bloomington, for its network of volunteers who are dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Nominations for the awards were solicited from local health departments, community organizations, service providers and citizens.


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