More than 40,000 people in Illinois live with HIV or AIDS and more than half of those individuals reside in Chicago.

There are approximately 1,000 new cases of HIV diagnosed in Chicago every year.
Cook County Health and local public health partners are striving to eliminate the transmission of HIV in our community through widespread education, testing and treatment.

The Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center was established as a partnership between Cook County Health and Rush University Medical Center. Since its opening, the Center has remained one of the largest HIV/AIDS clinics in the U.S. and treats more than 10,000 patients annually for HIV/AIDS care and other infectious diseases.

What is HIV/AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks and weakens the body’s immune system, leaving it unable to fight infections and diseases.
If left untreated, HIV can develop into acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of HIV where the immune system is defenseless against illnesses or infections. 
HIV/AIDS is transmitted through the transfer of bodily fluids (including blood, breast milk, semen, vaginal and anal fluids) to a mucous membrane or damaged tissue. HIV/AIDS is most commonly transferred during unprotected sex or injection drug use through syringes or needles. Pregnant mothers can also transfer HIV during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. 

Should I Get Tested?

The CDC recommends everyone between the ages 13 and 64 be tested at least once in their lifetime.
If you are at higher risk for infection, you should be tested annually. The CDC also recommends sexually active gay and bisexual men should consider getting tested every three to six months. 
You should consider getting tested for HIV if you: 
  • Had unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with more than one partner in the last year
  • Had unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with an HIV-positive partner 
  • Are a man who has had sex with another man 
  • Used IV or injection drugs or shared injection drugs with others 
  • Been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Been treated for tuberculosis or hepatitis 
  • Exchanged sex or drugs for money 

Treatment

While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, medical advancements in treatments, prevention and early detection have resulted in people living longer and healthier lives.

If you have tested positive for HIV, visit your doctor to immediately begin antiretroviral treatment (ART) immediately. The earlier treatment begins, the easier it will be to manage the virus and continue your life.  

Antiretroviral Treatment (ART)

ART Treatment is a combination of drugs prescribed by your doctor to effectively control HIV. Overtime, it reduces the amount of HIV in your blood and other bodily fluids to help your immune system recover and can even achieve an undetectable viral load. While ART is not a cure for HIV, regular and continued use will help patients live longer and healthier lives. 

PrEP

PrEP, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, is an FDA approved daily prevention pill for HIV negative individuals, who are vulnerable to getting HIV.

PEP

PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is an emergency antiretroviral medicine used to prevent HIV after a potential exposure. PEP must be started within 72 hours of potentially being exposed through unprotected sex or sharing needles. PEP is not an effective, long-term treatment and should only be used in emergency situations. 

Early Symptoms of HIV

While the only way for you to know if you have HIV is through testing, some people will experience flu-like symptoms 1-4 weeks after being exposed and some people experience no symptoms at all. 

Some people experience flu-like symptoms because it is how their body is reacting to the HIV virus and trying to fight it. During this time period, it might be too early for HIV to show up positive on a test; however, you can still transmit HIV to others. 
Call your doctor immediately if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV and if you experience flu-like symptoms, including: 
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle pain
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

Treatment at Cook County Health

The Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center provides integrated, comprehensive care or a “one-stop-shopping” model to offer patients all the services they need under one roof.
Services include primary and specialty medical care, dental care, social and support services, prevention and education programs and opportunities to participate in research.
The Center also has an onsite screening clinic that offers confidential testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), confidential counseling and testing for HIV, and tuberculosis (TB) screening.
  • Adolescent Medicine 
  • Bilingual Services 
  • Case Management Services
  • Chemical Dependency 
  • Dental Care
  • Mental Health 
  • Prevention and Education 
  • Primary Care Services
  • On-Site Specialty Care
    • Diabetes 
    • Gynecology/Colposcopy
    • Health Education Services
    • Hepatitis
    • Infection Disease Consultations
    • Infusion
    • Laboratory
    • Nutrition
    • Obstetrics
  • Research opportunities 
  • Social and Support Services
  • STI Screening Clinic
    • Sexually transmitted diseases
    • Confidential HIV testing 
    • Counseling 
    • Tuberculosis (TB) screening 
  • Women & Children’s Services
If you are a Cook County resident (documented or undocumented), uninsured/underinsured and are not eligible to enroll in Medicaid, you may qualify for financial assistance through Cook County Health’s CareLink Program to cover the cost of services. A benefits counselor will help patients with insurance coverage issues and when necessary, assist with enrollment documentation. 

To speak to a physician about HIV/AIDS or to schedule an appointment, contact the CORE Center at (312) 572-4500, Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
To contact the walk-in STI Screening Clinic, call (312) 572-4700, Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.
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