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Health Department encourages testing on National HIV Testing Day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health in Duval County is encouraging individuals to get tested for HIV as part of the National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday.

The theme for this year’s National HIV Testing Day is “Test your way. Do it today.”

Erin Hess, interim administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, said that it’s important to know one’s HIV status to make informed health decisions.

“We want people to understand that an HIV diagnosis does not stop someone from living a full and healthy life,” Hess said in a press release. “Now is the time to get tested and take control of your health.”

The department will be offering free HIV testing from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at 515 W. 6th Street as part of the initiative. The rapid tests can deliver results in 15 minutes.

Florida has over 1,400 registered test sites that provide confidential testing services at little to no cost. Last year, more than 340,000 tests were conducted through registered test sites in Florida. Doctor’s offices and health care facilities offer testing. 

An early diagnosis allows individuals to begin appropriate treatment that could result in better health outcomes. Studies indicate that providing antiretroviral therapy as early as possible improves a patient’s health, reduces transmission and can eventually lead to undetectable HIV viral loads.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals 13-64 years old be tested for HIV at least once in their life, with annual testing for individuals at increased risk of infection.

HIV-negative individuals are encouraged to use preventative measures to reduce chances of infection. 
The Department of Health, as part of its campaign to eliminate HIV in Florida, will offer Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication at no cost in all 67 county health departments by the end of 2018, according to a press release.

PrEP is a daily pill that can reduce chances of infection among HIV-negative individuals up to 92 percent, according to the CDC. However, it should be used in conjunction other preventative measures.

Visit www.KnowYourHIVStatus.com or test “FLHIV” to 898211 to locate HIV counseling, testing and referral sites.