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DOH-Leon Observes World AIDS Day

By Pamela Saulsby

November 29, 2020

DOH-Leon Observes World AIDS Day 

Tallahassee, Fla. The Florida Department of Health in Leon County (DOH-Leon) is observing World AIDS Day.  World AIDS Day is an annual observance held on December 1 to show global solidarity for people living with HIV, and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.  This year’s theme is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact.” DOH-Leon joins partners in Florida and throughout the world to increase HIV awareness, and to take a stand against HIV stigma.

 

“We understand that COVID-19 is still very present in our communities, however we feel it is important that we still recognize and bring awareness to those whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS ,” said Claudia Blackburn, MPH, RN, Health Officer, Leon County Health Department. “With the individuals we work with every day, we are more aware than most of the importance of taking extra steps to protect one another’s health.”

By the end of 2019, there were 2,150 people living with HIV in Leon and the surrounding counties, representing a twenty-three percent (23%) decrease from the previous year (N = 106). Seventy-One (71) people were diagnosed with HIV for the first time, primarily in Leon County.     Of those 71 individuals, seventy percent (70%) identify as black; twenty-seven percent (27%) identify as white, and; three percent (3%) identify as other. The Florida Department of Health is committed to connecting people living with HIV to the resources that they need to be able to not just live and survive, but to thrive. 

Get Tested.

Did you know that there’s more than one type of HIV test? Most use either a blood sample or fluid swabbed from the inside of your cheek. There are different settings in which you can take an HIV test, too, including in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Visit www.KnowYourHIVStatus.com to learn more about testing options in your area or to order a free at-home HIV testing kit mailed directly to the address of your choice (while supplies last). Free at-home HIV test kits are also available for pick-up.

DOH-Leon offers high-quality testing services, but you can also locate HIV counseling, testing, referral sites by calling 850-404-6240 or 1-800-FLA-AIDS. You can also visit: http://leon.floridahealth.gov

Knowing your HIV status is just the beginning.

It’s crucial that people living with HIV begin treatment as soon as possible. Immediate treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) can lead to long, healthy lives for people living with HIV. Achieving and maintaining a suppressed HIV viral load (fewer than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood) is a very effective way to prevent HIV transmission. ART reduces the amount of HIV in the body, which makes it harder to transmit to others. People living with HIV who reach and maintain what’s called HIV viral suppression have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner.

There are also many prevention tools for people who haven’t been diagnosed with HIV. While HIV prevention is truly a group effort, it can look very different from person to person. Talk to your healthcare provider about your sexual risks and take the appropriate next steps, which might include taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication and using condoms to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.

Observe World AIDS Day with us!

Event Activities:

Leon County Health Department is proud to partner with Visual AIDS for Day With(out) Art 2020 by presenting TRANSMISSIONS, a program of six new videos considering the impact of HIV and AIDS beyond the United States.

The program does not intend to give a comprehensive account of the global AIDS epidemic but provides a platform for a diversity of voices from beyond the United States, offering insight into the divergent and overlapping experiences of people living with HIV around the world today.

TRANSMISSIONS will premiere on November 30 at 6pm EST as part a special online screening event. A live Q&A with the commissioned artists will follow the screening. Please RSVP here to receive updates about this event. 

Beginning December 1, the video program will be available to view online at visualaids.org/transmissions.

About the Florida Department of Health

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

Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/healthyleonfl and Nextdoor at https://nextdoor.com/city/feed/.  For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

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Media Contact:

Pamela Saulsby | Public Information Officer

850-404-6220