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GET TESTED ON WORLD AIDS DAY

By Kent Donahue

November 22, 2019

World AIDS Day is on December 1, 2019. The Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) unites with people and communities worldwide by showing support for people living with HIV and honoring those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.

The theme of World AIDS Day 2019 is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community,” and the goal is to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 75 percent within five years.

More than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV and many more are at risk of HIV infection. The department remains fully committed to fighting the spread of HIV in Florida and helping connect individuals who are positive with lifesaving treatment and services.

DOH-Orange encourages those who are sexually active to “Know your Status” by getting tested. DOH-Orange offers high-quality HIV testing services at 407-858-1437. With early diagnosis, individuals can begin appropriate treatment and care resulting in better health outcomes.

On December 1, 2019, Kara Williams from DOH-Orange’s Area 7 HIV/AIDS program will speak at the “Paint the Ribbon Red” event held at the Majestic Event Center, 801 N. John Young Parkway in Orlando.  The event runs from 4pm until 8pm and there will be HIV testing, health screenings and other activities.

The department and our partners throughout Florida have made great strides in prevention, identifying infections early and getting people into treatment, however there is still much work to be done. The department is focusing on four key strategies to make an even greater impact on reducing HIV rates in Florida and getting to zero, including:

  • Routine screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and implementation of CDC testing guidelines;
  • Increased testing among high-risk populations and providing immediate access to treatment as well as re-engaging HIV positive persons into the care system, with the ultimate goal of getting HIV positive persons to an undetectable viral load;
  • The use of PrEP and nPEP as prevention strategies to reduce the risk of contracting HIV; and
  • Increased community outreach and awareness about HIV, high-risk behaviors, the importance of knowing one’s status and if positive, quickly accessing and staying in treatment.

As part of our strategic efforts to eliminate HIV in Florida, DOH-Orange offers the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication. PrEP is a once-daily pill that can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV in HIV-negative individuals. PrEP should be used in conjunction with other prevention methods like condoms to reduce the risk of infection. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking PrEP daily reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent. 

If you are sexually active, PrEP may be an option for you. Speak to your medical provider. For further information on the PrEP services offered by DOH-Orange, call the STD Clinic at 407-723-4170. 

Although the prescription is free, the comprehensive evaluation does have a fee. A sliding fee scale has been established and is based on income eligibility. For other PrEP locations in Central Florida, please visit https://preplocator.org/

For more information, call the Florida AIDS Hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS or 1-800-352-2437; En Espanol, 1-800-545-SIDA; In Creole, 1-800-AIDS-101.