The 21st Show

ENCORE: IL Writer Nafissa Thompson-Spires; Ending HIV In Illinois By 2030


Photography by Adrianne Mathiowetz Photography

Governor J.B. Pritzker says he wants to end the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030. Today we'll talk about what needs to be done to achieve that goal. Plus, Nafissa Thompson-Spires is the author behind the book “Heads of the Colored People.” She joins us to talk about her short story collection that showcases black life in a way not often written about.

IL Writer Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ debut short-story collection, “Heads of the Colored People,” chronicles the modern lives of middle class African Americans. The collection  was a 2019 PEN Open Book Award Winner, and was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award  and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.  

It was also a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the LA Times Book Prize in Short Fiction.

Nafissa was an Assistant Professor of English and taught creative writing at The University of Illinois. She relocated this fall  to Cornell University where she joined the faculty. But before she moved away from Illinois, Nafissa sat down with Niala Boohdoo back in July to talk about the book.  

Ending HIV In Illinois By 2030

Nearly 40,000 Illinoisans are living with HIV. The good news though, is that the number of people getting HIV is decreasing. From 2006 to 2017 new HIV transmissions decreased by 35 percent.  

Now, state public health officials and organizations believe that we could actually eliminate the HIV epidemic in Illinois altogether. Governor Pritzker announced a plan in May called Getting To Zero Illinois. The goal? To end the HIV epidemic in our state by 2030.

Niala Boodhoo spoke with some of the people behind this statewide effort back when the plan was first announced. Dr. Ngozi Ezike is the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. John Peller is President and CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. And Candi Crause is the director of teen and adult services at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

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