December 1 was declared World AIDS Day and recognized by the United Nations 29 years ago in 1988. According to the World Health Organization, since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of HIV globally.
Did you know the goal of Center on Halsted’s Get to Zero initiative is Zero new HIV infections and Zero HIV-infected persons not receiving treatment in Illinois by December 1st, 2030?
Meet Javier Arellano, a health educator that was recently promoted to Project Coordinator, Chicago Department of Public Health, at Center on Halsted. Javier is one of the many HIV Department staff members determined to ensure our community reaches the goal of Zero. Javier shares, “Center on Halsted’s Health Educators are actively educating and connecting our community to resources in live time with our Get to Zero initiative. Texting get2zero, 797979 makes it easier than ever for our community to obtain immediate and long-term resources and bridge the gap for those who may be unknowingly infected, or in need of care.”
Javier’s commitment to the work and clients at Center on Halsted is driven by his need to empower, educate, and unite our community. “I do this work because I want my community to be empowered. Talking about sex and HIV, AIDS, and STD prevention makes us more comfortable with who we are and in doing this we begin to take more agency over our bodies as a community. This work reassures our community that there are people and resources out to help them take control over their sexual health.”
Javier reflects about the fact that with everything that is happening in the world right now, it can often seem like there are fewer resources out there specifically for our community. He adds, “Our health educators here are intelligent, genuine people who really care and have connections throughout the city. They are willing to go above and beyond what is necessary to make sure our clients feel secure and supported.”
Javier emphasizes health educators’ responsiveness and availability for our clients has a long-term effect on our clients in that it creates an important bond. He says, “They trust us, talk to us, and we are responsive to their needs. We work with them to figure out the best way to keep them safe on their terms. In 10 years, we will Get to Zero.”
Will you persist with us to Get to Zero?