Florida Department of Health Recognizes National Black HIV or AIDS Awareness Day

Sunday, February 7 marks National Black HIV / AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), an annual celebration meant to increase education, testing, treatment and participation of black communities nationwide. In keeping with this year’s national theme, “We’re in the Same Boat,” the Florida Department of Health is calling on all Floridians to unite in supporting people living with HIV and to join us in our advocacy efforts. HIV and AIDS in black. communities.

In 2019, there were 116,698 people diagnosed with HIV in Florida. Of the 4,584 Floridians who were diagnosed with HIV in 2019, 38% were black. Florida saw an 8% drop in the rate of new diagnoses and a 25% drop in the rate of HIV-related deaths in the black community from 2018 to 2019. Despite these declines, black people living with HIV are still less likely than those who are HIV positive. others to be retained in the care of HIV. Regular HIV care includes antiretroviral therapy (ART), which lowers HIV in the body. This decrease, called viral suppression, leads to better health outcomes. Black Floridians living with HIV are also less likely to achieve viral suppression and, therefore, to miss out on important health and prevention benefits. To end the HIV epidemic in our state, we need to tackle head-on the factors that contribute to these disparities and have frank conversations about HIV and its links to racism, discrimination, stigma, lack of health insurance, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse disorders and mental health.

On this NBHAAD, the Ministry renews its commitment to overcome disparities and connect people to the resources they need to be able to live long and healthy lives. The HIV / AIDS section of the Department and the Office of Minority Health recently collaborated to fund grassroots community organizations in the seven counties of Florida most affected by HIV. Sixteen organizations received a total of $ 700,000 to conduct PrEP awareness, education and referral activities. In addition, the Department’s HIV prevention program has allocated more than $ 10 million per year over the past 15 years to support community-level HIV prevention activities and strategies carried out by community organizations, health centers. community, universities, drug treatment providers and health care providers. settings. The 44 providers currently funded under the Ministry’s High Impact Prevention Grant reflect the communities they serve, 17 of which meet the definition of minority-owned organizations. Ninety-three percent of them serve black / African American communities.

Now more than ever, HIV is preventable. PrEP and the use of condoms reduce the risk of getting HIV. Prevention can also take the form of regular HIV testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. Those most at risk should get tested at least once a year.

Florida is a national leader in HIV testing and there are many ways to get tested. Florida County’s 67 health departments offer HIV testing and PrEP services. You can also test yourself in the privacy and comfort of your own home. Visit KnowYourHIVStatus.com to learn more about testing options in your area or to order a free home HIV test kit sent directly to an address of your choice (while supplies last).

It is crucial that people living with HIV start treatment as soon as possible. Immediate treatment with ART usually leads to a long and healthy life for people living with HIV. It is also a method of preventing HIV. The viral suppression that results from ART treatment makes it more difficult to pass HIV to others. When HIV levels are too low to be detected by a viral load test, HIV cannot be transmitted sexually.

The ministry partners with organizations across the state to observe NBHAAD. Check out our online calendar of events to find out what’s happening in your area and how you can commemorate this National Health Respect Day.

Knowing your HIV status protects you and your community. Visit KnowYourHIVStatus.com to learn more. You can also call the Florida HIV / AIDS helpline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS, 1-800-545-SIDA (in Spanish) or 1-800-AIDS-101 (in Creole) for more information. information.

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

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

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