By Vee L. Harrison
46,000. That’s the total number of people in Illinois living with the HIV/AIDS virus, according to national data. Out of that number, 52 percent of those people are African-American.
Anyone who buys a special ticket for the Illinois Lottery can help fight against that number. The mission: to help free Illinois of HIV/AIDS.
The Illinois Lottery is partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health to launch a new Red Ribbon Cash lottery game expected to raise $1 million to prevention education and grants to public and private organizations that serve the highest at-risk groups for contracting HIV or developing AIDS.
Since 2008, the Red Ribbon Cash lottery game has contributed over $4 million to the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to a total of 19 organizations across the state that is dedicated to an Illinois free of HIV/AIDS.
“This type of campaign is indicative of what the Illinois Lottery is all about,” said Michael Jones, Lottery Superintendent.”
On August 7, 2012, “commonground”, the advertising and PR agency of the Illinois Lottery, launched a documentary on the harsh realities of the disease in Illinois at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State Street.
“Commonground” was recently named ‘Small Agency of the Year’ by Advertising Age and is also responsible for creating the tickets, the lottery’s advertising campaign, and the 15 minute documentary, 4orty6ix, as a way to recognize Illinoisans living with HIV/AIDS.
“The Lottery’s brand is ‘anything is possible’ and if you believe in that, you believe that sufficient awareness and sufficient knowledge could eventually have Illinois free of any new HIV infections,” said Jones.
Several individuals who are committed to discontinuing the spread of HIV/AIDS, gathered to view 4ortySix. In the documentary, Illinoisans spoke out about their personal thoughts of freeing Illinois from the disease. The documentary offers viewers a look at the disease and highlights how Red Ribbon Cash helps fund efforts to fight the spread of the disease.
Illinois ranked 7th nationwide in the diagnosis of HIV infections, and 6th nationwide in the estimated number of AIDS cases in 2010, the most current year for which national data is available. By the end of 2011, over 1,700 new cases of HIV and AIDS were estimated. These statistics are extremely striking to state officials like Senator Jacqueline Collins of the 16th District, who among many others attended the launching of the documentary.
“I consider HIV/Aids to be one of the most morally, compelling issues of our times,” said Senator Collins. “Given the dire statistics where it indicates Black women represent 3 out of 4 newly diagnosed cases, I feel that this Red Ribbon Cash campaign is a way of selecting funds to ensure that these individuals most at risks receive the prevention, care and education to curtail the spread of this disease.”
The $3 Red Ribbon Cash instant lottery ticket is available now at Illinois Lottery retailers throughout the state and offers top prizes of $40,000.
“We have made some progress in our fight against HIV/AIDS, but there is still more to do,” said LaMar Hasbrouck, Illinois Department of Public Health Director. “During these tight budgetary times, your purchase of a Red Ribbon Cash lottery ticket will provide additional funding for treatment and prevention programs needed in many poor and minority communities.”
For more information visit: http://www.illinoislottery.com/en-us/home.red-ribbon-cash.html
**Vee L. Harrison is a Chicago-based journalist , blogger, and youth educator. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Magazine journalism program and currently works as a youth journalism instructor for True Star Magazine. She works diligently as a mentor to several young people in local neighborhoods. Contact her at: email@example.com.