Fighting AIDS: ‘Getting to Zero’ goal of House Majority Leader

Greg Harris
House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) announced a ‘Getting to Zero’ strategist to fight HIV/AIDS. (Photo courtesy www.ilga.gov)

By Dave Dahl

SPRINIGFIELD – Helping announce a “Getting to Zero” strategy for HIV in Illinois, House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) – who is HIV positive – recalled the dark days.

“When I tested positive back in 1988, there literally was no hope,” Harris told reporters in the governor’s office Thursday. “A cure is a long way off, but we still have an option for treatment and prevention today.”

Harris credits a combination of genetics and access to healthcare for his survival, but others are not so lucky.

An estimated 40,000 Illinoisans are HIV positive. The “Getting to Zero” plan includes, among other things, making the anti-HIV drug PReP more available.

One leader in the fight against HIV discussed a “Twenty Plus Twenty Target.”

“We need to increase by twenty percentage points the number of people who are taking PReP, a daily HIV medication which is almost 100 percent effective at preventing HIV,” said John Peller, president of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “The second component is to increase by twenty percentage points the number of people who are HIV-suppressed.”

That would mean people who are on HIV medication and who no longer have HIV in their systems.

Dave Dahl can be reached at News@wjbc.com.

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