Advocates Push For Medication Access Amid Spike In HIV Among Young People

Jul 29, 2019

A measure awaiting Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature would allow minors who are at least 12 years old to get access to an HIV prevention drug without a parent or guardian’s permission.

Advocates have pushed for the measure because even though HIV infection rates are generally declining, the disease is on the rise among the young, sexually active population — especially youth of color.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a once-a-day pill, can effectively prevent the disease if taken properly, according to Kristin Keglovitch Baker with the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago.

"We need to increase the number of people on PREP, especially the number of people on PREP who are being hardest hit in their communities, and this bill really opens up access,” she said.

Nearly 70 percent of the youth with HIV in Illinois are black males who have had sex with other males.

State Rep. Lamont Robinson Jr., a Democrat from Chicago, sponsored legislation. He said it would help homeless youth and kids who can’t talk to their parents about sexual activity with their parents.