SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Center for Minority Health Services has created two great tools to help educate Illinoisans about HIV/AIDS and eliminate the spread of the disease.
The HIV/AIDS Testing Center Locator initiative, Text 2 Survive, is now available in Spanish. Using a mobile phone, any Illinoisan can send a text with the message “centro” plus their five digit zip code to the phone number 36363 for Spanish, or text “IL” plus their five digit zip code to the same number for English. That person will instantly receive a confidential text message back to their phone with the nearest HIV/AIDS testing center contact information. To help spread the benefits of getting tested, that person can then send their friends a text message urging them to get tested as well.
Individuals can also receive periodic alerts on important health related announcements, educational information and surveys from IDPH by texting “alert” to 36363, or text the word “event” to find out about free HIV and other health screening events in cities throughout the state. These applications are only available in English at this time.
“In this day and age of modern technology, we need to reach out to and educate people in a way that keeps up with the times,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director. “Mobile phones offer a quick and easy way to receive information – and in this case – information that could save someone’s life.”
The Department is also using Web technology help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Center for Minority Health Services, in collaboration with the American Indian Health Services of Chicago, Mi Raza Community Center in Arcola, the Springfield Urban League and BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) Ambassadors, developed the video project, “Girl…did you know?” The project includes six interviews with women answering questions such as: Do you think the threat is real? What do you know about HIV and AIDS? Do you think it can happen to you? Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, and women of color are disproportionately affected. These videos, accompanied by a public service announcement, are on the IDPH Web site and are being used as an educational tool statewide. You can find the videos at www.basuah.org.