Gov. Pritzker signs executive order in Rockford to fund HIV programs

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker fulfills a campaign promise during a stop in Rockford on Friday.

Pritzker signed an executive order at the Winnebago County Health Department to fund programs in an effort to combat the HIV epidemic.

The order calls for funding of programs and organizations that provide people with testing options. It also sets up a plan to track and report data with a strong focus on prevention.

The order was signed with the goal to end the epidemic statewide by 2030. Pritzker says prevention is not only key to that goal, but important in saving money in the long run.

"When we can treat earlier, we save money because the later it is detected the vastly more costly it is and so how does that save money? Well we have people who are on medicaid, who are on subsidized medical care that are costing tax payer, you know that's an expense for taxpayers," Pritzker said.

Locally, experts say the epidemic affects young adults ages 18 to 24 in the Rockford region.

"We are seeing still new infections and that is in the younger group as the governor indicated and so for us we're trying to get to that population in our community to let them know, 'hey you have to protect yourself,'" said Todd Kisner, Director of the Center for Health Protection at the Winnebago County Health Department.

Pritzker says there about 40,000 people in Illinois living with HIV. Officials say nearly 24,000 Illinois residents were receiving coverage for HIV in 2017.