WAUKEGAN – Each year on Dec. 1, people commemorate World AIDS Day. The day of awareness is a time to reflect on the worldwide response to HIV/AIDS while honoring the lives of those lost to AIDS-related illnesses.
On this day, people also renew their commitment to supporting the well-being of those with HIV, as well as those at risk for infection.
Join the Lake County Stands Against Stigma Coalition from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Jane Addams Center, 95 Jack Benny Drive, Waukegan.
The event is free and open to the public and will feature a candlelighting ceremony. Attendees will learn about the Illinois Getting to Zero initiative, which aims to see zero new HIV infections in Illinois and zero people living with HIV, who are not on treatment, by 2030.
Attendees also will learn about ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic with an emphasis on HIV testing, increasing access to pre-exposure prophylaxis medications and highlighting the importance of viral suppression.
The U.S. government’s theme for World AIDS Day 2022 – Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV – highlights the importance of HIV testing. The Lake County Sexually Transmitted Infections program, also known as Need2Know Lake County, works with clients and community members on HIV prevention with services including condoms, testing, PrEP, treatment and care.
“Expanding options for HIV testing remains an important part of ending the HIV epidemic and providing access for community members. We are always available to help clients know their status and provide the services people are looking for,” said Valerie Johansen, STI/HIV program coordinator at the Lake County Health Department. “We have made remarkable strides since the first World AIDS Day commemoration 34 years ago, but it’s still important to fight against stigma.”
About Lake County Stands Against Stigma: The Lake County Stands Against Stigma Coalition is a collaboration of community members including the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, Catholic Charities of Lake County and Ascension Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance. They receive additional support from the Waukegan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Community Walgreens, Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, Nu Phi Chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Waukegan Friends, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Prairie State Legal Services, College of Lake County, AbbVie, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, ViiV Healthcare and Gilead Sciences. Community partners and volunteers work together for capacity building, advocacy and the elimination of HIV-related stigma.
About Need2Know Lake County: The Need2Know Lake County program provides comprehensive care and prevention services for at-risk individuals in Lake County. The program provides HIV counseling and testing, clinical services for sexually transmitted infections, treatments to individuals diagnosed with an STI, hepatitis C screenings, syphilis screenings, risk reduction counseling, psycho-social support, health education groups and outreach and surveillance services related to all sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and hepatitis C.
For more information, call 847-377-8450 or visit lakecountyil.gov/need2know.