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HEALTH OFFICIALS ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUALS TO GET TESTED FOR HIV

By FDOH-Escambia Public Information Officer

June 25, 2018

Pensacola, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County (FDOH-Escambia) observes June 27 as National HIV Testing Day. 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.

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

Florida remains a national leader in HIV testing, with over 1,400 registered HIV test sites across the State, including six (6) in Escambia County, Florida. Clients can receive 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. Routine testing is also available through doctor’s offices and other health care facilities.

Getting Tested Is Easy.

In observance of National HIV testing day, FDOH-Escambia is partnering with Mother Wit Institute Inc. and community partners to host a free HIV testing event in our community:

WHEN:            Wednesday, June 27, 2018 from 12:00p.m. until

    4:00p.m.

WHERE:          St. John Divine Baptist Church, Pensacola, in the

    Maxwell and  Jordan Street parking lot.

WHO:              Anyone wishing to take charge of their health by

    knowing their HIV status.

Low-cost or no-cost HIV testing can also be obtained, as needed, at various locations. You can locate HIV counseling, testing and referral sites by visiting www.KnowYourHIVStatus.com or texting ‘FLHIV’ to 898211.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Can Reduce Risk of Contracting HIV.

HIV-negative individuals are encouraged to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by using prevention strategies, which can include taking pre-exposure prophylaxis medication. PrEP is a once-daily pill that can reduce the chance of acquiring HIV in those individuals who are HIV-negative. According to CDC, taking PrEP daily reduces the chance of getting HIV by more than 90 percent. PrEP should be used in conjunction with other prevention methods, like condoms, to reduce the chance of infection.

In Escambia County, Florida PrEP medication can be obtained, at low cost or no cost, through FDOH-Escambia’s PrEP Connect program. To learn more about PrEP and other strategies to prevent HIV transmission, contact the PrEP Connect program at 850-595-6345.

For more information, call the Florida HIV/AIDS Hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS or 1-800-352-2437. To chat with a live counselor at the Florida HIV/AIDS Hotline, visit 211bigbend.org/flhivaidshotline.

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About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyEscambia and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.