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FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IN ORANGE COUNTY ENCOURAGES FLORIDIANS TO TEST YOUR WAY ON NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY

By Kent Donahue

June 18, 2018

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) recognizes June 27 as National HIV Testing Day. This year’s theme is “Test Your Way. Do It Today,” which serves as a reminder that HIV testing has never been more convenient because there are more ways than ever to get tested. 

“HIV testing for all adolescents and adults is a national best evidence based guideline,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin DOH-Orange Health Officer. “It is imperative for the prevention of HIV that our community offers widespread HIV testing to all.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all individuals 13–64 years old be tested for HIV at least once during their lifetime, and persons at increased risk for HIV infection be tested at least annually. 

Florida remains a national leader in HIV testing, with over 1,400 registered HIV test sites (including each county health department and community-based organizations) which provide high-quality, confidential testing services at low or no cost. Last year, more than 340,000 HIV tests were conducted through Florida’s registered HIV test sites. Testing is also available through doctor’s offices and other health care facilities. 

With early diagnosis, individuals can begin appropriate treatment and care resulting in better health outcomes. Studies have shown that providing antiretroviral therapy as early as possible after diagnosis improves a patient’s health, reduces transmission, and can eventually lead to undetectable HIV viral loads.

Free and confidential HIV testing, from 11am until 7pm each day, will be offered starting June 26, 2018, at the following locations: 

Tuesday, June 26:

  • Walgreens on Bumby and Colonial: 2420 East Colonial Dr., Orlando 32803
  • Walgreens on Kirkman: 920 S. Kirkman Rd., Orlando 32811
  • Walgreens in Kissimmee: 1111 W. Vine St. Kissimmee 34741
  • Walgreens on Hiawassee: 2550 N. Hiawassee Rd., Orlando 32818 (12pm-5pm) 

Wednesday, June 27:

  • Walgreens on Northlane: 5185 North Lane, Orlando 32808
    Walgreens on 535 and I-4
  • Walgreens in Kissimmee: 1111 W. Vine St. Kissimmee 34741
  • Walgreens on Kirkman: 920 S. Kirkman Rd., Orlando 32811

Thursday, June 28th:

  • Walgreens on Semoran: 1303 S. Semoran Blvd., Orlando 32807
  • Walgreens in Kissimmee: 1111 W. Vine St. Kissimmee 34741
  • Walgreens on Northlane: 5185 North Lane, Orlando 32808 

Saturday, June 30th:

  • Sedano’s Supermarket: 5660 Curry Ford Rd Orlando 32822 (10am-3pm) 

HIV-negative individuals are encouraged to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by using prevention strategies. As part of our strategic efforts to eliminate HIV in Florida, the Department is working to make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication available at no cost at all 67 CHDs by the end of this year. PrEP is a once-daily pill that can reduce the chance of acquiring HIV in HIV-negative individuals. PrEP should be used in conjunction with other prevention methods like condoms to reduce the chance of infection. According to CDC, taking PrEP daily reduces the chance of getting HIV by more than 90 percent. 

PrEP will be made available through CHD Sexually Transmitted Disease and Family Planning Clinics and patients can be provided with up to a 90-day supply of medications. Some CHDs may offer PrEP through a specialty clinic. Find a PrEP provider near you with the department’s PrEP Providers List

You can locate HIV counseling, testing and referral sites by visiting www.KnowYourHIVStatus.com or texting ‘FLHIV’ to 898211. For more information, call the Florida HIV/AIDS Hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS or 1-800-352-2437; En Español, 1-800-545-SIDA; In Creole, 1-800-AIDS-101. To chat with a live counselor at the Florida HIV/AIDS Hotline, visit www.211bigbend.org/flhivaidshotline