FORT LAUDERDALE — With the theme: Take the Test, Take Control in recognition of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, the Broward Is Greater Than AIDS Initiative and their community partners are reflecting similar efforts by numerous organizations in the region and nationwide in collaborating to make testing available.
The annual National HIV Testing Day promotes free HIV counseling and testing designed to encourage individuals to assess their risk for HIV infection and know their HIV status.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, one in five unaware of their status.
Florida continues to be heavily impacted by HIV and AIDS, and ranks third in the nation in the cumulative number of reported AIDS cases, officials say.
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. Officials emphasize learning your HIV status and that of your partners because studies have shown that when people find out they are living with HIV infection, they take steps to protect their health and that of their partners.
Furthermore, once you learn your status, if you find out that you have HIV infection, you can seek medical care that can reduce the impact of HIV on your health, substantially increase your lifespan, and improve your quality of life.
Traditional testing — an oral swab or a blood draw test — can be done, which takes about two weeks for results, or a rapid HIV test can be used, officials say.
The rapid HIV test, which requires no more than a finger-stick blood specimen, delivers reliable results in 20 minutes. Reactive rapid tests must be confirmed with a confirmatory test.
In Broward County, one in every 90 people age 13 and over is living with HIV/AIDS, say officials who are providing a comprehensive listing of testing facilities and hours of operation beyond just June 27.
For more information on free testing sites call the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, HIV Prevention Program Office at 954-467-4700 x 5660, or visit browardchd.org or wemakethechange.org
In Palm Beach County, through the collaborative efforts of the Health Department, community-based organizations, health care providers citizens, city, state and national officials, the Test Palm Beach County initiative launched in 2012 resulted in 34,372 people being tested.
This year it is hoped even greater numbers will get tested and learn their status as part of National HIV Testing Day, officials say.
In addition to testing being offered at Health Centers throughout the county, and by organizations such as Comprehensive AIDS Program (CAP), Walgreens clinics and pharmacies are offering testing June 27-29.
Genesis Community Health will recognize National HIV Testing Day by offering free HIV Rapid Testing and free gift certificates and gifts for every person who gets tested from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the center, 564 E. Woolbright Road in Boynton Beach. Call 561-735-6553 or visit gencomhealth.org
A complete list of sites and information is available at pbchd.com, wemakethechange.com, greaterthan.org/walgreens or by calling Florida Health Palm Beach County, 561-840-4500.
Miami-Dade County Health Department officials also are joining community partners and advocates in encouraging residents and visitors to get tested, emphasizing anyone who has participated in unprotected sexual activity or has shared syringes or needles through drug use, tattooing or piercing, as well as all pregnant women and children born to HIV-positive women.
Miami-Dade had an estimated 25,711 persons living with HIV/AIDS as of December 31, 2011, officials said, with one in 36 Blacks, one in 163 Hispanics and one in 123 whites living with HIV infection through 2011.
To learn more about events in Miami-Dade County for HIV Testing Day, call 305-324-2400 or visit dadehealth.org
In Monroe County, officials also say the Health Department’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Program’s primary goals are to find and link to care anyone who may not know that he/she is infected and to prevent new HIV infections. Services include free HIV testing, community outreach, evidence-based interventions, public education and awareness.
Call 305-293-7500 or visit keyshealth.com