HIV/AIDS

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HIV Services

  • HIV Care in Suburban Cook County
    • AIDS Foundation Chicago coordinates case management system for the Chicago Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA), which includes suburban Cook County. Case Management assists HIV-diagnosed clients in identifying and prioritizing their needs, connecting to appropriate medical and social services, and applying for benefits and emergency funds. For more information, please call 312-922-2322.
    • The Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline offers case management services to link HIV-infected pregnant women to medical care and social services.  The Hotline provides real-time medical consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to medical providers caring for HIV-infected pregnant women. For more information, please call 1-800-439-4079.
    • Open Door Clinic in the north suburb of Elgin provides free HIV medical care for eligible individuals. For more information, please call 847-695-1093.
    • Loyola University Medical Center in the west suburb of Maywood provides free HIV medical care for eligible individuals. For more information, please call 708-216-5024.
    • South Suburban HIV/AIDS Regional Coalition (SSHARC) with south suburban clinics in Phoenix, Robbins, and Ford Heights provides free HIV medical care for eligible individuals. For more information, please call 708-753-5848.
  • HIV Prevention Partners
    • Asian Human Services, Inc. is funded to provide HIV screening and prevention services for high risk suburban Cook County Asian-Americans with a particular focus on Asian men who have sex with men in the north suburbs. For more information, please call 773-564-4958.
    • Aunt Martha's Youth Service Center in the south suburbs provides HIV screening and teach HIV risk reduction skills to high risk heterosexual foster home youth and gay teens. For more information, please call 708-679-8192.
    • Bridging the Tys to Jordan in the south suburbs provides HIV screening and risk reduction counseling through van outreach to African American high risk heterosexuals, injection drug users, and men who have sex with men. For more information, please call 773-667-9632.
    • Carepoint Adult, Child and Family Association in the north suburbs is funded to conduct HIV risk reduction education and testing with African American and Latino high risk heterosexuals, injection drug users and men who have sex with men in Evanston and Des Plaines. For more information, please call 847-425-3606.
    • Chicago Recovery Alliance provides outreach injection harm reduction counseling and HIV/STD testing to persons with injection drug risk and their partners, and to sex workers in west suburbs of Cicero, Maywood and Stone Park. With foundation grants, the agency also provides legal syringe exchange services to reduce syringe-sharing and safely dispose of used syringes. For more information, please call 773-471-0999.
    • Evanston Health Department conducts partner services for Evanston residents diagnosed with HIV disease to identify HIV-exposed partners and to assist as needed to confidentially notify and test exposed partners who live in Evanston. For more information, please call 847-866-2962.
    • Howard Brown Health Center is funded to conduct HIV prevention and testing outreach to men who have sex with men in gay bars in south suburban Blue Island, west suburban Forest Park, and north suburban Elk Grove Village. For more information, please call 773-388-1600.
    • Links North Shore Youth Health Services provides HIV prevention group health education, risk reduction counseling and HIV testing to gay youth in the north suburbs of Northfield and Palatine. For more information, please call 847-441-6191.
    • PCC Wellness Center provides HIV prevention group health education, risk reduction counseling and testing to gay youth and young adults in the west suburbs. PCC’s Latino men’s program provides group peer support and outreach HIV screening for Latino men who have sex with men. For more information, please call 708-383-0113.

The Basics

  • What is HIV?

    HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that affects certain white blood cells—CD4 T cells—that manage human immune system responses. When these blood cells are damaged, it becomes difficult for people to fight off infections or diseases. This condition is called "HIV disease."

    Human - the virus can only infect human beings. Although similar diseases exist in other animals, such as monkeys and cats, those viruses cannot infect humans nor can HIV infect other animals.

    Immunodeficiency - the virus creates a deficiency with the body's immune system, causing it to stop working properly.

    Virus - the organism is a virus which is incapable of reproducing by itself; it must use a human cell as a host to reproduce.

  • What is AIDS?

    When HIV disease was first recognized in the early 1980s, it was called AIDS. Today, the term "HIV disease" is a more accurate description of the condition. However, the term AIDS is still used, primarily for the purpose of counting infections and as a description for advanced-stages of HIV disease. AIDS refers to individuals who have particular AIDS-defining conditions such as a very low CD4 white blood cell or specific opportunistic illnesses.

    Acquired - the disease is not hereditary but develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent (in this case, HIV). HIV is not a condition passed on genetically; a person has to become infected with it.

    Immunodeficiency - the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system.

    Syndrome - a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease. In the case of AIDS this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain cells (CD4 T cells) in a person’s immune system.

How is HIV Transmitted?

HIV can be transmitted when a sufficient quantity of virus carried in bodily fluids (i.e., blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk) enters an uninfected person’s body. HIV is most commonly spread between sex partners through unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse. Injection partners may transmit HIV through sharing syringes, drug solutions, cookers, cotton or rinse water used to inject street drugs. An HIV-infected mother may infect her infant during childbirth or later through breastfeeding. Screening of blood products for HIV has largely eliminated transmission through blood transfusions or infected blood products in the United States.

HIV is not spread through other bodily fluids such as tears, saliva or sweat. HIV is not transmitted through casual contact, such as shaking hands with a person with HIV, hugging, or by touching objects that an HIV infected person has touched. HIV is inactivated relatively quickly when exposed to air. Typically, by the time an infectious fluid spill such as blood dries, any HIV in the spill is no longer infectious.

How to Prevent HIV Transmission?

HIV transmission can be prevented in a number of ways. Injection-related HIV infections can be eliminated by avoiding injecting drugs entirely. Also, the risk of transmission via injection drug use can be reduced by avoiding the sharing of syringes, drug solutions, cookers, cotton strainers, rinse water and using only new, sterile syringes and other works. Sexual transmission of HIV can be eliminated by sexual abstinence for as long as that is strictly maintained, and markedly reduced through consistent, correct condom use particularly for anal or vaginal sex, or by otherwise avoiding the exchange of infectious bodily fluids. Sexually active persons can lower their own and their partner’s risk through regular screenings for HIV and other STIs and through treatment as appropriate. Reducing the number of sex partners, knowing your HIV and STI status and the HIV and STI status of sex partners, together with proper use of condoms will also help to prevent the transmission of HIV.