About HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. The immune system protects the body from infections and disease, but has no clear way to protect it from HIV. HIV finds and destroys a type of white blood cell (T cells or CD4 cells) that the immune system must have to fight disease. Over time, most people infected with HIV become less able to fight off the germs that we are all exposed to every day. People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for 10 or more years. They may not know they are infected. An HIV test is the only way to find out if you have HIV.

About AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV infection. It can take years for a person infected with HIV, even without treatment, to reach this stage. Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infections. When someone has one or more of these infections and a low number of T cells, he or she has AIDS. AIDS has serious health consequences, it can interfere with quality of life and there is no cure.

HIV/AIDS Data

An estimated 1.1 million individuals are living with HIV infection in the U.S., with 135,000 in Florida. The number of living persons reported with a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS was 95,335 in Florida through 2010. The most recent national data indicate that Florida has surpassed New York in the annual number of HIV diagnoses, and leads the country in the number of late diagnoses of HIV, an indicator of progress of testing efforts to identify infected persons. Our epidemic is widespread, affecting both urban and rural areas. As a result, no one county or metropolitan division accounts for 30% or more of persons living with HIV.

As in most areas of the country, the Florida epidemic is disproportionately influencing minorities, who account for 70% of living HIV/AIDS cases, but 40% of the state's population. Through 2010, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among black women was 19.8 times that of white women in the state. Estimates indicate that gay/bisexual men and men who have sex with men (MSM) but are not gay-identified account for only 7.8% of the adult male population, but 60% of all incident HIV infections. Research has shown the estimated HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among all Florida MSM is 66 times that of adult males who are not MSM; and marked racial/ethnic disparities persist in HIV incidence, prevalence, and mortality among the MSM.

The Expanded Testing Initiative (ETI) has enabled the department to expand testing opportunities in private healthcare settings and non-healthcare settings. In Florida, we have focused our efforts on 12 counties with the greatest burden of HIV among black, Latino, MSM, and transgendered populations: Miami-Dade, Broward (Ft. Lauderdale), Palm Beach, St. Lucie (Ft. Pierce), Orange (Orlando), Duval (Jacksonville), Collier (Naples), Manatee (Bradenton), Pinellas (St. Petersburg), Hillsborough (Tampa), Alachua (Gainesville), and Osceola (Kissimmee). In 2012, through the ETI initiative, 163,108 individuals received an HIV test, while 1,098 (0.67%) where newly diagnosed.

HIV/AIDS Facts

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

HIV is NOT spread by casual contact.

HIV is NOT passed by shaking hands, hugging, sharing a phone, or sharing a bathroom with someone who has HIV or AIDS.

HIV is preventable. Abstaining from sex and not sharing equipment (“works”) used for injecting drugs are the best ways to protect yourself from HIV infection.

People living with HIV may look and feel healthy, but can still pass the virus to sex partners and/or needle-sharing partners.

If your HIV test is negative and you have had unprotected sex or shared needles in the past 3 months, you may need to be retested.

Importance of Testing

Knowing you HIV status is critical to stopping the spread of the infection. The Florida Department of Health has partnered with various community testing providers in ten of Florida's counties that are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. Health departments offer testing at minimal charge, but no fee is charged for those who can't afford it. For more testing sites, call 1-800-FLA-AIDS, or text your zip code to 477493.

About AIDS

Are you at risk for HIV? Have you ever…

  • + had unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex?
  • + had sex while under the influence of drugs and alcohol?
  • + received or given sex for drugs, money or other items?
  • + shared needles, syringes, or “works” for injecting drugs, tattooing or piercing?
  • + had an STD (sexually transmitted disease) such as gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, or Chlamydia?
  • + been pregnant or are currently pregnant?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it's time to take an HIV test.

What Testing Results Mean

NEGATIVE means: you are not infected with HIV or you could be infected, but your body hasn't yet begun producing antibodies.

REACTIVE means: you are most likely infected with HIV. Another sample (blood or oral) must be collected to confirm the reactive result and results will be returned to your test site within about 2 weeks.

POSITIVE means: you are infected with HIV and can infect others. Once diagnosed with HIV or AIDS the local health department is able to assist you with medical, prevention, and supportive services.

If your confirmatory test is positive, a health worker from your local county health department will most likely contact you to discuss your result and help you with health care. You are also able to go to your local health department and obtain your result (with picture ID).

About HIV Testing:

Both confidential HIV testing and anonymous HIV testing are available to anyone who requests it.

Confidential testing means that the person's name and test results are kept in a private medical file.

Anonymous testing means a person is given a number when being tested and he or she can only be identified by that number - no name is recorded.

Find a Testing Center:

Select a county from the drop down to display testing centers. For more testing sites, call 1 (800) FLA-AIDS, or text your zip code to 477493

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Partnering Organizations

Florida AIDS Hotline
Monday – Friday 8A-9P Saturday 10:30A – 6:30P
English 800.FLA.AIDS (800.352.2437)
Spanish 800.545.SIDA (800.545.7432)
Creole 800.AIDS.101 (800.243.7101)
TTY: 888.503.7118

Florida Domestic Violence Hotline
800.500.1119 press the number '1' after prompt
TTY: 800.621.4202
This 24-hour hotline connect callers to the nearest domestic violence center. Translators are available.

National CDC STD/HIV/AIDS Hotline
800.CDC.INFO (800.232.4636)
Available in English or Spanish
TTY: 888.232.6348
cdcinfo@cdc.gov
This 24-hour hotline offers a wide scope of HIV/AIDS/STD/TB-related resource information.

Florida AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)
800.FLA.AIDS (800.352.2437)
ADAP helps HIV-positive people stay healthy by assisting with the purchase of HIV prescription medications. ADAP provides HIV drug treatments for people who do not have private health insurance, do not qualify for Medicaid, or are awaiting Medicaid eligibility and cannot afford to purchase the medications themselves.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline
English 800.273.TALK (800.273-8255)
Spanish 888.628.9454
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free service available to anyone in suicidal crisis.

Florida Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center (F/C AETC)
886.FLC.AETC (886.352.2382)
FCAETC.org

Links

To learn more about HIV and AIDS, click a link below. You'll find information on everything from testing to prevention to treatment.