"Today we remember those who have lost
their lives to AIDS and those still fighting the disease and living
with HIV/AIDS," Gov. Blagojevich said. "World AIDS Day is also a
time to reaffirm our commitment to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness,
education and prevention in order to prevent further transmission of
this devastating disease."
Despite two years of budget deficits, Gov. Blagojevich increased
funding for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The governor
was successful in getting the General Assembly to spend an
additional $3.1 million in general revenue funds on the AIDS Drug
Assistance Program, which was increased from $7 million to $10.1
million. The program has a total budget of $35 million.
In addition, an extra $1 million in
state funds was added in fiscal 2005 to the $2 million already
budgeted in fiscal 2004 for minority AIDS prevention efforts. Gov.
Blagojevich noted that while African-Americans represent 15 percent
of the state's population, they account for nearly 54 percent of the
AIDS cases diagnosed in Illinois and more than half of new HIV
In Illinois, there have been 30,971
reported cases of AIDS since 1981 and, of those diagnosed with the
disease, 16,613, or nearly 54 percent, have died. Illinois has the
sixth-highest total of AIDS cases in the nation.
The World AIDS Day observance in the
rotunda of the state Capitol will be from noon to 2 p.m. FOX TV's
"Divorce Court" Judge Mablean Emphriam will be the keynote speaker.
Other speakers include Louanner Peters, the governor's deputy chief
of staff for human services, and Tom Hughes, with the Illinois
Department of Public Health's Office of Health Protection.
Illinoisans who have been diagnosed with HIV will also tell their
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The candlelight vigil
will be at 7 p.m. at the Illinois State Library. Anyone is welcome
to gather at the library and light a candle in remembrance of a
loved one lost to the disease or to give hope to those still living
To visually represent the lives of
Illinoisans lost to this disease, the Capitol dome lights will be
dimmed from 6:45 to 7 p.m. The lights also will be dimmed at that
time at the Illinois Department of Public Health headquarters in
Springfield, 525 W. Jefferson St., and in Chicago at the James R.
Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., and the Michael A. Bilandic
Building, 160 N. LaSalle St.
The White House and public and
private buildings throughout the nation also will dim lights
First observed on Dec. 1, 1988,
World AIDS Day is observed annually and serves to strengthen global
efforts to address the challenges of the AIDS pandemic, which
continues to spread throughout every region of the world.
The state AIDS, HIV and STD
toll-free line is available to answer questions about HIV/AIDS and
to provide locations of free counseling and testing services. The
line can be reached at 1 (800) 243-2437 or TTY 1 (800) 782-0423
between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
[News release from the