HIV Testing and Counseling Services

The purpose of the HIV counseling and testing service is to identify and provide early intervention for persons who are at risk of becoming infected or who have become infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Some of the risk behaviors that constitute high-risk status include, but are not limited to:

  • having sex (all forms: vaginal, anal, mouth to anus or sexual organs) while using drugs
  • heterosexual injecting drug users
  • partners of heterosexual injecting drug users
  • persons who share injecting drug using equipment
  • persons who provide sex for drugs / money
  • persons with a sexually transmitted disease diagnosis
  • victims of sexual assault
  • hemoglobin / blood recipients
  • health care exposure
  • males who have sex with males
  • women who have sex with women
  • males who have sex with males and who also are injecting drug users
  • mothers who transmit HIV / AIDS to fetus
  • tatooing or piercing

Persons in any of these categories are targeted for early identification and intervention. Clients in substance abuse treatment facilities have the opportunity to identify their risk of being infected and then have a right to learn of their HIV status. Their identity is protected under strict state and federal confidentiality laws.

In FY2003, the HIV early intervention programs are provided by 41 DHS/OASA-funded organizations at 56 sites that are certified by the Illinois Department of Public Health. These sites are located throughout the state, and they offer a single location where individuals can receive substance abuse treatment as well as HIV counseling and testing. There are three OASA-funded mobile units that are used for street-level early intervention outreach services, which provide linkages to HIV counseling and testing and substance abuse treatment services. Several of the OASA-funded treatment organizations who provide services to adolescent 13 to 20 years of age also provide HIV counseling and testing because significant portions of this age group have unprotected sex combined with drug-seeking behaviors.

Clients who test positive for HIV or AIDS benefit from other medical treatment linkages established by the treatment provider. This may be an important gateway for engaging HIV infected persons into full treatment for HIV infection, which would both improve the quality and length of their own lives and reduce the chances that they will transmit HIV to others. Clients who test negative are supported with continued HIV education and post-test sessions, which offer opportunities to gain a better understanding of the meaning of a negative test result.

Substance abuse treatment services and this early intervention HIV program are delivered by community-based agencies who are under contract to DHS/Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Generally, these services are available locally in communities throughout the state. This system enables clients to be assessed and treated as close to their home communities as possible, allows communities to take ownership of their programs, and facilitates public information. Treatment services are delivered through a continuum approach, with individual clients moving from one level of care to another based on their assessed needs.

In the DHS/OASA substance abuse treatment system in FY 2002, a total of 13,093 persons were tested and 19,247 were counseled. Of this number, 1,005 youth under age 20 were tested and 1,360 were counseled.