HIV and AIDS in Illinois
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SPRINGFIELD -- The human
immunodeficiency virus, HIV, is the virus that causes AIDS, or
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, a disease that causes the body
to lose its natural protection against infection. The disease is one
of the most devastating epidemics in modern history.
The virus is found in the blood
and other body fluids of infected individuals. It can be transmitted
during vaginal, anal or oral sex, or when sharing needles to shoot
drugs, pierce the body or make tattoos. Pregnant women with HIV
infection can pass the virus to their baby during pregnancy or
delivery, as well as through breast-feeding.
The virus attacks certain white blood
cells that protect the body against illness. A person with AIDS is
more likely to become ill from infections and unusual types of
pneumonia and cancer that healthy persons normally can fight off.
Since HIV was first identified in
1981, it has spread rapidly throughout the world. In the United
States, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 people are currently living
with HIV/AIDS, and up to one-third do not know they are infected.
Since 1981, nearly 450,000 people in the United States have died.
Illinois has the seventh-highest
number of AIDS cases in the nation, with 30,000 reported cases of
AIDS since 1981. Of those diagnosed with the disease, about 16,500
Approximately 40,000 people in the
United States become infected each year. People of color,
particularly African-Americans and Latinos, are disproportionately
affected by HIV/AIDS and have some of the highest infection rates.
Gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, and women represent
other populations at greatest risk of infection.
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There is no vaccine or cure for
AIDS, and those with HIV are infected for life.
There are, however, treatments and
medicines that can help the body resist the virus, including
antiretroviral drugs. These drugs can increase the number of years
between contracting HIV and developing AIDS, but they are not able
to prevent the onset of AIDS.
Department of Public Health]