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DOH - Seminole County Health Department Encourages HIV Testing During National HIV Testing Day

June 24, 2019

Sanford, Fla. - The Seminole County Health Department recognizes June 27th as National HIV Testing Day. This year's theme, "Doing It My Way," highlights how and why people make testing part of their lives - on their terms and in their way. Doing It My Way encourages individuals to share their personal testaments of why testing is important, what motivates them to get tested and stay healthy, and how they get tested - be it at home, at the clinic, or with the company of a friend or loved one.

Free confidential HIV and STD testing will be provided on Thursday, June 27th from 8:30 - 11am and 1 - 3:30pm at the Seminole County Health Department located at 400 West Airport Boulevard, Sanford, FL 32773.

"Testing for HIV continues to be the best way to know your HIV status and get linked to care and treatment services if positive," said Donna Walsh, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.

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.

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 County Health Departments 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 is 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.

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.

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