FDOH-Alachua Recognizes National HIV Testing Day

Press release from Alachua County, at the request of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County

June 27, 2020, is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). First observed in 1995, NHTD is meant to encourage people to be aware of their HIV status so that they can take control of their health.

The theme for this year’s NHTD is centered on the power of “Knowing”:

  • knowing your HIV status
  • knowing your risk
  • knowing your prevention options
  • knowing your treatment options

This theme highlights the many ways to stay in-the-know about HIV testing and expands beyond testing to include broader awareness of the many options related to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (FDOH-Alachua) joins community partners across the country to emphasize the importance of getting tested, knowing your status, and getting linked to care and treatment.

HIV continues to be a significant health challenge in Florida. To reduce HIV transmission in Florida, it is essential for everyone to know their HIV status, be linked to and retained in HIV medical care, and maintain viral suppression (<200 copies/ml).

In 2018, 119,661 Floridians were confirmed to be living with HIV. Approximately 1,098 people in Alachua County were living with HIV.

Get Tested.

This year also focuses on self-testing as an option when facility-based services and in-person patient-clinician contact is limited. Per CDC, everyone between the ages of 13 through 64 should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime as part of routine health care. Persons at increased risk for HIV should be tested at least annually.

“Getting tested is the first step in taking care of your health and controlling the spread of HIV,” says Gay Koehler-Sides, HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator for Area 3/13. “Once you know your status, you can make informed decisions about your health. If you are positive, we can help get you into care and on HIV medications to improve your health and reduce the chance that you will transmit the virus to your partners.”

HIV-negative individuals are encouraged to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by using prevention strategies. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once-daily pill that can reduce the chance of acquiring HIV in HIV-negative individuals. PrEP should be used in conjunction with other prevention methods such as condoms to reduce the chance of infection. According to CDC, taking PrEP daily reduces the chance of getting HIV by more than 90 percent.

FDOH-Alachua provides PrEP to both insured and uninsured individuals. To learn more about PrEP or to schedule an appointment, please call 352-334-7969. Order a free home test kit here: https://knowyourhivstatus.com/get-a-free-home-testing-kit, or call 352-334-7972 to pick up an at home test kit at FDOH-Alachua.

FDOH-Alachua provides both confidential and anonymous HIV testing in person. Residents can make an appointment by calling 352-334-7960. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Protect yourself. Get tested. Know your status. Learn what’s next.

For more information, call 352-334-7960 or 1-800-FLA-AIDS, or visit KnowYourHIVStatus.com.