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February 25, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan today announced a $500,000 grant to the Chicago Department of Public Health to help fund an AIDS public awareness campaign directed at women of color in their childbearing years.

"Recent trends indicate a significant increase in the number of AIDS cases among African-American and Hispanic women in the Chicago area and a continuing need for prevention messages to reach out to these women," Ryan said. "I am hopeful this money can assist the city in reducing the human suffering this disease has brought disproportionately to women, particularly minority women."

The city recently reported that during the last decade the number of new female cases of AIDS in Chicago, nearly all of them to African-American or Hispanic women, has tripled from 53 of 769 cases, or 7 percent, in 1988 to 195 of 889 cases, or 22 percent, in 1997. The principal causes of AIDS transmission among women is injection drug use, followed by heterosexual contact.

"While we're making progress in the treatment of AIDS, the best way to fight the disease is through prevention," Mayor Richard M. Daley said. "This grant will help us educate young minority women on how to keep from acquiring this terrible disease."

HIV and AIDS is the leading cause of death of African-American women 25 to 44 years of age in Chicago and the second leading cause of death among Chicago Hispanic women in that age group.

The state funds will be used to promote awareness of how HIV, the virus that causes AIDS is transmitted, to encourage women to take precautions against the disease such as not sharing needles or having unprotected sex and to urge women to seek voluntary testing to learn their HIV status.

Recent improvements in drug therapies administered as early as possible after infection with HIV have proven to be effective in delaying the progression of the disease and reducing the passage of the virus to a woman's unborn child.

"This grant is an installment on my pledge to aggressively seek ways to combat the spread of this terrible disease," Ryan added.

To ensure that low-income women and men can receive the benefits of these life-saving drugs, the state operates the AIDS Drug Reimbursement Program (ADAP) to provide prescriptions at no cost to persons whose income is no greater than 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Governor Ryan has recommended ADAP receive $21 million in funding in his Fiscal Year 2000 budget up from the $15 million in the current fiscal year budget.


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