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Mile Square Health Center: Committed to HIV Prevention

Friday, June 28, 2019

Dr. Benjamin Van Voorhes
Karen Cotler, DNP, FNP-BC
Mile Square Health Center

Getting to Zero Illinois is a state-wide initiative to end the HIV epidemic in the state by 2030.

In 2017, nearly 40,000 people were living with HIV in Illinois, but in the decade between 2006–2017, new HIV transmissions in the state dropped nearly 35%.

HIV disproportionately impacts individuals who are gay or bisexual; men who have sex with other men; transgender women; and communities of color. But PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, has become an essential tool in preventing new HIV infections.

PrEP is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The PrEP pill contains two medicines — tenofovir and emtricitabine — that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.

When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently.

“I partner with my patients to help them achieve the best health and quality of life. This includes helping people stay HIV-free. PrEP is the most powerful tool I can offer my patients who want to reduce their risk of HIV infection,” says Dr. Karen Cotler, a family nurse practitioner at Mile Square Health Center–Humboldt Park. “I am committed to being part of the change so that a person’s skin color or neighborhood no longer predicts their HIV risk.”

PrEP/HIV prevention and care for sexually transmitted infections are among the services at Mile Square–Humboldt Park.

“At Mile Square, we help patients get and use PrEP for as long as they need it — even people without insurance,” says Cotler. “We are committed to ‘Getting To Zero,’ and we believe that by partnering with our patients and our community, we will achieve this goal.”

To request an appointment at Mile Square–Humboldt Park or for more information about HIV or treatment for other infectious diseases, please call 312.413.7425.