Legislators Introduce Bills to Combat HIV Epidemic in Illinois

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Illinois legislators have introduced several key bills aimed at ending the state’s HIV epidemic by 2030 this month. Senator Lakesia Collins and Representative Kelly Cassidy filed the Connection to HIV Testing and Linkage to Care Act (HIV TLC). Senator Mike Simmons and Representative Hoan Huynh concurrently introduced the Strengthening and Protecting the Illinois HIV Funding Infrastructure bill (SPIHFI, pronounced “spiffy”). Supported by AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC), the leading HIV advocacy organization in Illinois, both the HIV TLC bill and the SPHFI bill recognize that ending the HIV epidemic is not only a public health imperative but also a critical step towards achieving health equity and racial justice. Below are key highlights from each proposed bill:   
HB5417/SB3711: The Connection to HIV Testing and Linkage to Care Act (HIV TLC)
Introduced by Rep. Cassidy and Sen. Collins, the HIV TLC bill contains provisions to mandate insurers and Medicaid cover home test kits for sexually transmitted infections including HIV without cost sharing, to create Rapid Start for HIV Treatment pilot sites, and to ensure the availability of HIV/AIDS education in county jails. Justice-involved people incarcerated or in reentry are considered vulnerable to HIV. 

HB5667/SB3809: Strengthening and Protecting Illinois’ HIV Funding Infrastructure Bill (SPIHFI)
Introduced by Sen. Simmons and Rep. Huynh, this legislation will provide $4.5 million in additional funds to support HIV education, prevention, testing, and treatment. These funds will also help launch eight Rapid Start for HIV Treatment pilot sites across the state. SPIHFI also maintains funding for the Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) initiative, African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund, PrEP4Illinois program, and STI testing, treatment, and prevention.  The Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) plan brings together communities with lived experience, advocacy, academic, healthcare, and public health organizations to end the HIV epidemic in the state.

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