On June 8 at the James R. Thompson Center, the Illinois Lottery and Illinois Department of Public Health unveiled the ninth edition of the Red Ribbon Cash $3 instant game ticket. The ticket is the only one in the nation where 100 percent of the proceeds go toward HIV/AIDS research, education and prevention.
Illinois Lottery Communications Director Stephen Rossi spoke about the lottery's commitment to K-12 education funding, capital funding and select special causes such as the Red Ribbon Cash ticket. Rossi noted that since 2008, the Illinois Lottery has raised $6.4 million to fight against HIV/AIDS.
"We're proud to partner with the Illinois Lottery in this endeavor because it speaks to a lot of the work we do," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah. "We're grateful and thankful to each and every one of you as well as our colleagues at the Lottery for holding this event and sponsoring and underwriting this ticket that prioritizes HIV/AIDS research. We depend on the funds raised to support innovative projects that will ultimately end this debilitating disease."
Shah highlighted the groups most affected by HIV across all stages of the disease, including African-Americans, who, although they are just 15 percent of the Illinois population, make up half of the 36,000 individuals currently living with HIV in the state. He noted that in 2014, 1,500 people were newly diagnosed with HIV and of those, half were African-American. Shah said the next group with the highest rate of HIV infections are Caucasians at 25 percent.
As for how the Illinois Department of Public Health uses the money raised from these ticket sales, Shah explained that in FY2016 they funded eight agencies that conducted HIV counseling and testing as well as prevention and education across the state. He noted that since July 2015 about 1,000 people have been tested for HIV and 1,200 people have received HIV education and risk reduction counseling due to the money raised by last year's ticket sales.
Ben Montgomery and Michael O'Connor, both of whom spearheaded the creation of the ticket, were in attendance as well as longtime supporter state Rep. Camille Lilly.
"This has been a grass-roots initiative every step of the way," said O'Connor. "Red Ribbon Cash remains the only independent revenue enhancer of its kind in the U.S."
The Red Ribbon Ticket is available at 8,000 Illinois Lottery retailers across the state, with prizes ranging from $5 to $50,000.
See IllinoisLottery.com/redribboncash for more information.