Tampa, Florida — Florida leads the nation in HIV positive rates. According to a Florida Health Department survey, infection rates in some parts of the state are over 80%.
ABC Action News reporter Anthony Hill has analyzed the numbers for us on how far we have come and how far we still have to go.
People from all over the world have shown solidarity with people infected with HIV on World AIDS Day. The first World AIDS Day was held in 1989. “Since then, World AIDS Day has been held every year,” said Dr. Bob Wallace, who loves the Golden Rule Clinic in St. Petersburg.
Dr. Wallace has been an HIV doctor for decades. He still remembers the beginning of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. At that time, the diagnosis of HIV was a solid death sentence for many. “We were alert at the patient’s home all the time and helped the patient pass by.”
He said many died within six months, but today, with modern medicine, HIV is not a death sentence. In fact, the life expectancy of people living with HIV is no different than that of people who are not infected with HIV. “Now I get an injection once a month and get treatment to manage HIV.” Many people who live with the virus only need to take one tablet daily.
There have been some advances in controlling this virus, but there is still a way to go. According to the CDC, Florida leads the United States in the number of new HIV infections. African Americans, Latinos, and men who have sex with men are at greatest risk of getting the virus.
Dr. Wallace says education is one of the best ways to reduce the rate of contraction of HIV. He says he was giving monthly lectures on HIV prevention at a local high school until state policy changed the way sex education was provided. “During the Bush administration, they ruled out opportunities to discuss things other than abstinence.”
When someone starts receiving treatment after being diagnosed with HIV, the viral load can be reduced until it is virtually impossible to give it to someone else. According to the CDC, 66% of Florida people living with HIV are suppressed by the virus, but the goal is 80%. He also said that knowing your status can prevent HIV from turning into full-blown AIDS. Thirteen percent of Florida people living with HIV do not even know they are infected with HIV. “The agencies involved in health care recommendations recommend that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV.”
Here are the links to find the nearest test center
Florida leads the country in new HIV cases
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