Florida Health in Duval observes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Posted by: DCMS
Alison A. Hewitt
Jacksonville, Florida — The Florida Department of Health in Duval County (DOH-Duval) in conjunction with our community partners are hosting activities citywide to observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7. DOH-Duval is using this opportunity to increase HIV education, testing and treatment in black communities.
“African Americans account for a higher proportion of those living with HIV compared to other races in the United States,” said Dr. Kelli Wells, Deputy Secretary for Health and Director of Florida Department of Health in Duval County. “Education and awareness campaigns are critical to preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS, particularly in communities where HIV is heavily concentrated.”
In 2016 one in 171 adults living in Duval, Baker, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau Counties was known to be living with HIV. One in 401 was White, one in 315 was Hispanic, and one in 56 was Black.
Florida is a national leader in HIV testing. DOH and its 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 Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Nonoccupational Post-exposure Prophylaxis (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.
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 viral loads of HIV. This model has been successfully implemented in Florida and there are currently 35 Test and Treat sites operating statewide.
As part of our strategic efforts to eliminate HIV in Florida, the Department of Health is working to make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication available, regardless of a client’s ability to pay, at all of the 67 county health departments within the next year. 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 along with consistent condom use reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent.
DOH-Duval offers PrEP at our Comprehensive Care Center on 515 West 6th Street in Jacksonville, Florida 32206. Some CHDs may offer PrEP through specialty clinics. Visit floridahealth.gov to locate the CHD in your county.
Every CHD also offers high-quality HIV testing services. Testing can be completed at your local county health department or you can locate HIV counseling, testing and referral sites by visiting www.KnowYourHIVStatus.com or texting your zip code to 477493
Here are the events scheduled in Duval County in observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:
Free HIV Testing, Giveaways & Refreshments on February 7, 2018:
Clara White Mission
613 West Ashley Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Edward Waters College Student Union Building
1658 Kings Road
Jacksonville, FL 32209
About the Florida Department of Health
The department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.
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