Florida health department offers free HIV testing in Seminole County

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The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County is offering free HIV and hepatitis testing this Friday in honor of National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day.

The free tests will be available Oct. 12 at the DOH-Seminole building, 400 W. Airport Blvd. in Sanford, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then again from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"There are many HIV resources including education, testing, and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services to assist the community," said Donna J. Walsh, health officer for the department, in a statement. "Lack of awareness of HIV status contributes to HIV transmission. Regular HIV testing is essential to stay HIV negative or start treatment if positive." 



National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day, which is on Oct. 15 this year, focuses on the tools available to address HIV with the theme, "Ending HIV Is Everyone's Job." Those tools including using condoms regardless of status, getting regularly tested for the virus, taking a daily pill as part of PrEP to stay HIV-negative and being consistent with medication if you are HIV-positive to stay virally suppressed.

The Latinx community is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, according to DOH-Seminole. Despite only making up 18 percent of the U.S. population, Latinx adults and adolescents accounted for 24 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2015.

"New HIV diagnoses among Hispanics/Hispanic/Latinx have increased while the incidence of new diagnoses have decreased or remained stable in the other ethnic groups," according to the Latino Commission on AIDS. "We see the impact of stigma, homophobia, and transphobia as major barriers in accessing HIV testing, prevention, treatment and care in our community."

If you need more information about PrEP or would like to get PrEP, DOH-Seminole provides PrEP services by appointment on Wednesday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. You can schedule an appointment by calling 407-665-3700.

If you need more information on free HIV testing, call 407-665-3019 or visit seminolecohealth.com.

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