FORT LAUDERDALE — The Broward County Health Department along with its community partners launched its Broward is Greater than AIDS social marketing public awareness campaign on Wednesday, June 27, National HIV Testing Day.
With South Florida leading the nation in new HIV case rates, the campaign aims to elevate public knowledge and understanding of HIV/AIDS and promote routine HIV testing to all members of the community, helping to reverse an upward trend and curb the rate of new infections.
Broward is Greater than AIDS encourages Broward County residents to “Know Your HIV Status” as well as the HIV status of their sexual partner.
The campaign will include Broward County Transit buses “wrapped” with the campaign message, inside bus placards with educational messages on Sexually Transmitted Diseases and community education presentations with public and private sector partners, all supported by television, print and online public service advertising.
“Broward County has a real opportunity to address the challenge of HIV and AIDS,” said Paula Thaqi, Broward County Health Department director. “About 16,000 Broward County residents currently live with HIV and AIDS. This number has steadily increased over the last decade due to increased testing and improved treatment.
HIV/AIDS in Broward County continues to disproportionately affect men of all races and ethnicities who have sex with men, and women of color,” she said. “Broward County is a great place to live, work and play. Working together, we can prove that ‘Broward is Greater than AIDS.’”
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, who serves Florida’s 23rd District, said HIV/AIDS “can happen to anyone, but we have the power to stop the spread of HIV and create an AIDS-free generation.
It all begins with getting tested to find out your status and using this knowledge to take better care of yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Equally important is also knowing the status of your partner. Regular HIV testing has been proven to save lives and reduce new infections.”
Hastings formally entered remarks regarding the Broward is Greater Than AIDS campaign into the Congressional Record last week. “The Broward is Greater Than AIDS campaign is a vital tool to educate individuals and the community about the realities of HIV/AIDS, why they should get tested, and where testing is available,” he said, commending “the Broward County Health Department and its new comprehensive HIV/AIDS outreach initiative for working to increase HIV testing and end stigma.”
It is estimated that 21 percent of adult Americans currently infected with HIV are unaware of their status. Early diagnosis, entry into care and continued engagement in healthcare can significantly improve health outcomes and decrease transmission.
Visit wemakethechange.com for a list of free testing sites located throughout Broward County.
Photo courtesy of Broward County Health