Central Illinois STD cases on the rise

By Joe Bennett

April 18, 2012 Updated Apr 18, 2012 at 10:30 PM CDT

Studies show the reported number of cases of HIV AIDS and other STD's are quickly increasing throughout Central Illinois.
Funding to help prevent the spread of diseases through physical contact or drug use, however, is being cut drastically.

Area medical professionals, local advocates for change and the federal government agree.

Public Health Administrator Greg Chance said, "Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS continues to be a significant public health challenge in our community."

Greg Chance with the Peoria City and County Health Department says he is working with the state to obtain funding to combat transmission of the disease. Meanwhile, Director of Friends of People with Aids, Mike Maginn said, "We've seen about a 56 percent decrease in federal funding."

While funding has been cut, Maginn says the federal government estimates the number of people living with HIV AIDS in America is double than what was previously thought. Pam Briggs with the Heart of Illinois HIV AIDS Center says, the center is currently providing services to 600 patients.

There has been a 36 percent increase in females aged 13 to 24. Briggs blames the high number on a lack of education in the area.
According to Briggs, high school students in the area say there is no discussion on STD prevention at school, unless it is in a peer-led group.

"Stigma is huge and that's one of the problems why the undiagnosed numbers stay so high," added Mike Maginn.

Maginn says even adults are not staying educated on advances in medicine to fight the epidemic. He says couples with one non-affected person can still be in an active relationship with someone living with HIV, under the proper care.

Maggin went on and said, "They're finding the transmission rate has gone down significantly if that one person maintains their medication."

Though the disease is now more manageable, Maginn says fewer will have access to help as the number of people living with HIV AIDS rises and funding cuts continue.

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