END THE EPIDEMIC / DIGITAL

End the Epidemic, In Part by Digital Communication

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HIV TESTING IMPROVE

Frequency of HIV Testing and Time from Infection to Diagnosis Improve

 


 

WORLD AIDS DAY, FLORIDA HEALTH IN ST. LUCIE COUNTIES

November 30, 2017

ON WORLD AIDS DAY, FLORIDA HEALTH

IN ST. LUCIE CONTINUES FIGHT AGAINST

HIV/AIDS

Contact:

Arlease Hall Arlease.Hall@FLHealth.gov

772-370-1391

St. Lucie County, FL — As the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie (DOH-St. Lucie)

unite with others in communities worldwide, we observe World AIDS Day by showing support for

people living with HIV and honoring those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. We also

take this time to celebrate the caregivers, families, friends, and communities that support them.

This year’s national theme is “Increasing Impact Through Transparency, Accountability and

Partnerships.”

“St. Lucie’s struggle with this infectious disease became a crisis, and we were highlighted in the

Silence Is Death Report in 2006; where severe racial and ethnic HIV/AIDS, disparities reached

epidemic proportion. Through community engagement, with strong leaders we addressed the

issue through a collective impact process. Now, more than 10 years later, we rank number 19

out of 67 counties, and we have the largest decrease in new HIV infections in the state. DOH –

St. Lucie continues to remain vigilant in addressing HIV/AIDS in St. Lucie, because we

understand the impact this disease has on families and a community”, said Clint Sperber,

Health Officer and Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie.

Over 1.1 million people in the US are living with HIV, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it. The

department remains fully committed to fighting the spread of HIV in Florida and helping connect

individuals who are positive with lifesaving treatment and services.

Florida is a national leader in HIV testing. DOH and our partners throughout Florida have made

great strides in prevention, identifying infections early and getting people into treatment,

however there is still much work to be done. The department is focusing on four key strategies

to make an even greater impact on reducing HIV rates in Florida and getting to zero, including:

· Routine screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and

implementation of CDC testing guidelines;

· Increased testing among high-risk populations and providing immediate access to treatment

as well as re-engaging HIV positive persons into the care system, with the ultimate goal of

getting HIV positive persons to an undetectable viral load;

· The use of PrEP and nPEP as prevention strategies to reduce the risk of contracting HIV;

and

· Increased community outreach and awareness about HIV, high-risk behaviors, the

importance of knowing one’s status and if positive, quickly accessing and staying in

treatment.

With early diagnosis, individuals can begin appropriate treatment and care resulting in better

health outcomes. Studies have shown that providing antiretroviral therapy as early as possible

after diagnosis improves a patient’s health, reduces transmission and can eventually lead to

undetectable viral loads of HIV. This model has been successfully implemented in Florida and

there are currently 35 Test and Treat sites operating statewide.

As part of our strategic efforts to eliminate HIV in Florida, the Department of Health is currently

working to make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication available at no cost at all of the

67 county health departments within the next year. PrEP is a once-daily pill that can reduce the

risk of acquiring HIV in HIV-negative individuals. PrEP should be used in conjunction with

other prevention methods like condoms to reduce the risk of infection. According to the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking PrEP daily reduces the risk of getting

HIV by more than 90 percent. DOH-St. Lucie is a Test and Treat site and we are now offering

PrEP.

PrEP will be made available through CHD STD and Family Planning Clinics and patients can be

provided with up to a 90-day supply of medications. Some CHDs may offer PrEP through a

specialty clinic. Visit floridahealth.gov to locate the CHD in your county.

Every CHD also offers high-quality HIV testing services. Testing can be completed at your local

county health department or you can locate HIV counseling, testing and referral sites by

visiting http://www.KnowYourHIVStatus.com or texting your zip code to 477493.

PLEASE JOIN US

World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil: Friday, December 1, 2017 – 5:30 p.m.

Location: Fort Pierce City Hall -100 US Highway 1, Fort Pierce, FL 34950

World AIDS Day Celebration: Saturday, December 2, 2017

Location: Lawnwood Stadium – 1302 Virginia Ave, Fort Pierce, FL 32982

Games, activities for children, fun vendors, community resources, free HIV/STD testing and

“LIVE RADIO REMOTE”

For more information, call the Florida AIDS Hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS or 1-800-352-2437; En

Espanol, 1-800-545-SIDA; In Creole, 1-800-AIDS-101.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to

protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county

and community efforts.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information about the

Florida Department of Health please visit http://www.FloridaHealth.gov.

HIV and Our Youth

KEY FINDINGS

1. HIV hits close to home for many young people of color.

Due to a combination of social inequities and where the disease initially took hold, HIV has disproportionately affected Black and Latino populations. The uneven impact of HIV is reflected in the starkly differing views and experiences reported by those of different races.

About three times as many Blacks and Latinos, as whites, say HIV today is a “very serious” issue for people they know.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How serious of a concern is HIV for people you know?

Almost twice as many Blacks, as whites or Latinos, say they know someone living with or who has died of HIV. One in five Blacks have a family member or close friend affected by HIV.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 15

About a third of Black and Latino young people say they worry about getting HIV; approximately half as many whites express concern about their own risk.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 16

2. Many are not aware of advances in HIV prevention and treatment.

In the five years since PrEP, the pill to protect against HIV, was approved by the Food & Drug Administration, only about one in ten young adults know about the prevention option.

When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective in protecting against HIV. PrEP is also a significant advance in that it provides women with the first HIV prevention tool that they can control themselves.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 17

There are also gaps in understanding of how the medications used to treat HIV work. While most young adults are generally aware of the health benefits of antiretrovirals (or ARVs), many understate their effectiveness and few know they also prevent the spread of the virus.

ARVs work to reduce the viral load to levels undetectable by standard lab tests. Studies show that when the viral load is less than 200 copies of virus per milliliter of blood, long-term health is greatly improved and sexual transmission of the virus is extremely unlikely, if not impossible.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How effective are current HIV treatment options

3. Stigma and misperceptions about HIV persist.

Most young people today say they would be comfortable having people with HIV as friends or work colleagues, but when it comes to other situations, the stigma of the disease is evident.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How comfortable would you be

Providing insight into what may be behind the stigma, the survey also reveals a lack of understanding among some about how HIV is and is not transmitted.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 20

4. HIV testing is occurring less than generally recommended. 

The CDC recommends HIV testing as part of routine health care, yet more than half of young adults say they have never been tested.

Black young adults are more likely – and more recently – to report having gotten an HIV test.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: Have you ever been tested for HIV

5. The Internet is a go-to resource for HIV information.

After school, searching online is one of the most often named sources of HIV information by young adults (multiple responses possible). Almost as many cite some form of media as doctors for at least “some” information.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS chart: How much information about HIV have you gotten from

Four in ten say they would like more information about at least one basic HIV topic asked about. More Black and Latino young people indicate they want to know more about HIV, across all topics, as compared to whites.

National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS 24

National Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

HIV.gov Shares Communication Tools for Gay

Florida Phasing Out Project AIDS Care, Other Medicaid Waivers

Thousands of Floridians living with AIDS could be losing financial assistance they say is essential to living a normal life, and some AIDS groups are worried the state won’t carry through on its promises.

On a recent Tuesday morning, Brandi Geoit sits at a conference table at the West Coast Aids Foundation headquarters. Across from her in the small New Port Richey office with butter-yellow walls is Dwight Pollard, a 61-year-old man living with AIDS.

Geoit tells him a new Florida law means patients like him could lose some of the financial help they’re getting through Medicaid.

“We’re not sure if you would keep your Medicaid because you’re still pending for your social security. And you haven’t qualified for Medicare yet because you’re still not old enough,” Geoit said.

Pollard no longer works, and depends on a special Medicaid waiver to cover his health care costs. Medication alone can cost $15,000 a month.

His partner, Ed Glorius, was sitting next to Pollard as he heard the news.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Glorius said. “It doesn’t make sense to put people’s lives in turmoil. We’re better off than most and I’m freaking out. I’m waking up first thing in the morning thinking about this every day.”

Pollard is one of about 8,000 Floridians with AIDS who get help paying for doctor visits, medications and various home health services through this Medicaid waiver fund, which is called Project AIDS Care. Last month, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill formally eliminating this waiver for AIDS, along with waivers for cystic fibrosis, developmental disabilities and elder care.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration said while the waiver is going away, AIDS patients in Florida will not see a loss or gap in services. The agency declined repeated requests for interviews, but issued a written statement, explaining transition into a Medicaid Managed Medical Assistance plan.

“We will continue to provide the same services through the same providers for these individuals. The PAC (Project AIDS Care) waiver is essentially a waiver that expanded Medicaid eligibility to those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and allowed the recipients to access needed medical services (e.g., physician services) and drugs. Given the advances in pharmaceuticals available to treat HIV/AIDS, most PAC recipients in the waiver only need those medical services and case management. With this transition, their eligibility will be maintained and they will continue to have access to the medical services, drugs and case management under the MMA waiver through the health plans. They will see no reduction in services and will be able to continue to see the medical professional they always have.”

The agency said patients will go into the Medicaid Long Term Care program starting this month. Everyone will be transitioned into it by Jan. 1, 2018.

But Geoit estimates 90 percent of her clients will not meet the requirements for long term care, which normally applies to people needing round the clock nursing.

She said her clients will definitely lose certain services that Medicaid doesn’t cover. Massages for those with neuropathy? Gone. Pest control? Gone. And services that are currently covered – like delivered meals, adult diapers and wheelchair ramps – could be lost, too.

So, she’s asked the state to clarify how it’s now different.

“When we asked them, they said, ‘Don’t worry. Reassure your client that they’ll be taken care of.’ And when we asked them point-blank what happened, you know, we were under the impression that a single adult still does not qualify for Medicaid. Has this changed? And they ended the conference call,” Geoit said.

Her program – a non-profit – exists only to manage the Project Aids Care waiver money for 325 clients in seven counties including Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough. With the new law, Geoit said her foundation will shut its doors by the end of the year.

For Dwight Pollard and his partner, the State Agency for Health Care Administration’s lack of answers is a concern.

“You don’t need the stress of how you’re going to pay or how you’re going to do this,” Pollard said.

But that’s his reality. And Pollard said until the state agency can give clear answers, he’ll keep searching for other programs that can help pay for his life saving medications.

2018 United States Conference on AIDS

 

 

June 12th has been designated as Orlando United Day.  On this day, we remember the 49 angels who were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. This was a deliberate attack on the LGBT community that must never be forgotten.

To show our support for Orlando and the LGBT community, NMAC is pleased to announce that we will hold the 2018 United States Conference on AIDS in Orlando on September 6-9, 2018.  Please save the date.

The 2018 meeting will highlight the contributions made by the LGBT community to our efforts in ending the epidemic.  Our community has suffered so many losses and we must stand together.

The 49 beautiful portraits in this e-newsletter were created by 49 different artists across the country.  Each portrait portrays someone who was killed in the Pulse shootings.  They are all on exhibit at the Terrace Gallery at Orlando City Hall from May 1 – June 14, 2017.

Yours in the struggle,

Board & Staff of NMAC
Stronger Together!