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

Resilience



By Fernando De Hoyos · NMAC Treatment Coordinator

Every year we come together on this day to honor the lives and struggles of Long-Term Survivors of HIV and AIDS. For me, everyone who was old enough to remember the early days of the epidemic is a long-term survivor regardless of HIV status. Countless allies living without the virus have been side by side with us along this journey. It was a time like no other in US history. June 5th was chosen because on this day, in 1981, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) first announced the “mysterious cancer” that was killing gay men around the country. Therefore, this day is a national day of remembrance and sharing our stories of resilience and survival, to document them for posterity.

I have told my story many times, so I want to talk about this year’s theme: “Resilience”. As a long-term survivor, I know resilience very well. Resilience is the ability to cope with adversity and to adapt well to tragedies, traumas, threats or severe stress. Being resilient does not mean not feeling discomfort, emotional pain, or difficulty in adversity. However, people living with HIV are usually able to overcome their diagnosis and adapt well over time. Resilience involves a series of behaviors and ways of thinking that anyone can learn and develop. I believe resilient people have three main characteristics: Know how to accept reality as it is; Have a deep belief that life makes sense; And have an unwavering ability to adapt to almost anything, often making the best out of it.

Resilient people usually possess a good dosage of realistic optimism. A positive vision of the future without being carried away by unreality or fantasies. Our perceptions and thoughts influence the way we deal with stress and adversity. We don’t run away from problems but face them head on and seek creative and innovative solutions. It involves seeing problems as challenges that we can overcome and not as terrible threats. Challenges are opportunities for learning and growing. I think blessings sometimes come in ugly packages, but what is inside could be the gift of a lifetime. “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”– Buddha.

Which takes me to Gratefulness. Gratitude is a major contributor to resilience. When we focus on what we have, we realize that what we might be missing is not as important. It allows us to focus on life from a place of abundance versus a place of deficit. Gratitude improves physical and psychological health. Studies have shown that people living with HIV who practice gratefulness are more likely to take care of their heath, exercise and have good medication adherence. Developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve quality of life and sense of wellbeing.

Life is a blessing, with all the good and the not so good. The notion that whatever our journey might be, is unique and wonderful as it is. This is what makes life worth living. We just must be present to enjoy it, and the present moment is a gift, that’s why is called The Present. Please join us in raising awareness about HIV Long-Term Survivors contributions and accomplishments, as well as needs, issues, and journeys.

Yours in the Struggle,

AIDS United Responds to Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bil

 

AIDS United acknowledges that the Fiscal Year 2017 omnibus appropriations bill, released last night, provides continuity of HIV funding for most domestic programs. This is an important development for maintaining our progress towards the national goals and priorities of reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

While most HIV programs will see level funding in the budget, AIDS United is concerned that a $4 million cut to Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C clinical providers and a $5 million cut affecting the budget to fight sexually transmitted infections will diminish our response to HIV and health care, particularly given the increasing cases of sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, among men who have sex with men.

“Knowing that Congress plans to keep funding intact for most HIV efforts is reassuring, but we urge Congress to also ensure that Part C clinical providers and our response to sexually transmitted infections are fully funded,” said AIDS United President & CEO Jesse Milan, Jr.

AIDS United is particularly appreciative that Congress listened to the voices of people living with and affected by HIV in increasing funding for the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program by $21 million. “Housing is fundamental to ensuring that people living with HIV live longer and healthier lives and we thank Congress for recognizing the importance of this program by securing its current stability,” said Milan.


About AIDS United: AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., through strategic grant-making, capacity building, formative research and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV/AIDS-related policy for U.S. populations and communities most impacted by the epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities, and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy. aidsunited.org