Every year, December 1 marks the global observance of World AIDS Day. This year’s national World AIDS Day theme is Ending the HIV Epidemic: Community by Community. The Florida Department of Health is calling on Floridians in all communities to unite in support of those living with HIV and to remember those who we’ve lost. We hope that you’ll join us in our efforts to raise awareness for HIV and AIDS on this World AIDS Day and every day.
In 2018, there were 119,661 people living with HIV in Florida. More than half of the 4,906 new diagnoses were for people between the ages of 20 and 39. Our state experiences a high burden of the HIV epidemic and the Department is committed to connecting people to the resources they need to be able to live long, healthy lives.
“In public health, we’re often looking forward. We talk about preventing new HIV transmission, we talk about long-term care for people living with HIV, we talk about ending the HIV epidemic,” says HIV/AIDS Section Administrator Laura Reeves. “And that is all vitally important. But it’s also so important that we set time aside for looking backward, for remembering. On World AIDS Day, we honor those who have lost their lives to HIV. In their memory, and for those living with HIV, we push on.”
Ending the Epidemic
In February 2019, President Trump announced his administration’s goal to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. The resulting initiative, called Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, or EHE for short, is already well underway. The goal of EHE is to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent in the next five years and by 90 percent by 2030.
We have the power to both prevent and treat HIV. Earlier diagnosis leads to more successful treatment, so getting tested and learning your HIV status is important.
Florida is a national leader in HIV testing and there are many ways to get tested. You can take an HIV test at any Florida Department of Health county location, or you can 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 at-home HIV testing kit mailed directly to the address of your choice (while supplies last).
You Know Your HIV Status—Now What?
Knowing your HIV status is only the beginning. What you do to stay healthy after that largely depends on your results.
It’s crucial that people living with HIV begin treatment as soon as possible. Immediate treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) typically leads to longer, healthy lives for people living with HIV. It’s also a method of HIV prevention. ART reduces the amount of HIV in the body, which makes it harder to transmit to others.
There are also 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. A health care provider can do a risk/needs assessment to determine appropriate next steps, which might include taking PrEP and using condoms to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. Prevention may also take the form of regular retesting.
World AIDS Day Events Near You
The Department is partnering with organizations throughout the state to observe World AIDS Day. Check out our online events calendar to learn about what’s going on in your area, and how you can memorialize those we have lost and show solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV worldwide.
Can’t make it to a World AIDS Day event? Knowing your HIV status protects you and your community. The Department offers HIV testing and PrEP services in every county. Visit KnowYourHIVStatus.com to learn more and locate your nearest testing site. You can also call the Florida HIV/AIDS hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS, 1-800-545-SIDA (en Español), or 1-800-AIDS-101 (in Creole).