A Drop In New AIDS Cases

June 26, 2006

The Illinois Department of Public Health says the number of new AIDS cases in the state dropped slightly between 2004 and 2005.

At the same time, department officials say the number of HIV infections went up.

Eric Whitaker is Illinois' public health director.

He says the most disturbing trend is that 77 percent of all HIV cases in 2005 were in the 18-44 age group.

"We need to humanize people," Whitaker says. "These aren't some folks over there who have this disease. These are our brothers, our sisters, our family members and try ing to get to the youth so they don't think it's odd that this is just part of who we are and what we do I think it's going to be a critically important thing."

Whitaker says African-Americans accounted for 52 percent of the 1,366 new AIDS cases reported last year.

He also says the leading way for HIV to be transmitted in Illinois is men having sex with men.