The state's Department of Public Health is plugging into modern-day messaging systems to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
"In this day and age of modern technology, we need to reach out to and educate people in a way that keeps up with the times," the state public health director said in a news release issued Wednesday.
With the Text 2 Survive program, any Illinois resident can now send a text message from their cell phone -- IL plus their five-digit zip code to the phone number 89183 -- and they'll instantly receive a confidential text in return with the nearest HIV/AIDS testing center contact information.
To help spread the word about the benefits of being tested, it's hoped that the recipients of the confidential text will pass it on to friends, along with a message urging the friends to get tested as well.
"Mobile phones offer a quick and easy way to receive information -- and in this case -- information that chould save someone's life," said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director.
To further encourage use of the program, there's a sweepstakes -- which ends July 1. People who Text 2 Survive are entered for a chance to win weekly $50 gift cards. If they pass the message on to others, their names will be entered again. Those who get tested and confirm their testing by texting the center's name will be entered for a chance at a $200 gift card.
In May 2009, numbers showed approximately 34,500 Illinoisans have been reported to be living with HIV or AIDS.