The Florida Department of Health is implementing a statewide HIV and AIDS prevention campaign. The Okaloosa County campaign is being implemented to promote testing and treatment for HIV on television, radio and outdoor advertising to include local transit buses.
“HIV is still a public health concern, and we encourage everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 to get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care,” Dr. Karen A. Chapman, director of the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, said in a press release. “The good news is, with the new medications available today for anyone who is HIV negative, acquiring HIV can be prevented. And for those who are HIV positive, it is possible to live a long, healthy, happy and productive life.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 5 people don’t know they have HIV, and an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States live with HIV. DOH-Okaloosa offers free rapid-access HIV testing and treatment services during regular business hours at its clinic. Its outreach programs include:
A new mobile community-based HIV testing initiative to help make testing available to residents in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
Partnering with locations throughout Okaloosa and Walton counties to host HIV testing. To arrange for testing, businesses, churches and community organizations can contact Aaron Hill at 850-428- 0205.
Offering PrEP to people who are at high risk of HIV. People can contact DOH-Okaloosa at 850-833-9246 to make an appointment for an HIV test and PrEP consultation. 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 such as condoms to reduce the risk of infection. According to the CDC, taking PrEP daily reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent.
For the DOH-Okaloosa clinic hours or for more information, visit www.HealthyOkaloosa.com. For other information on HIV, call the Florida AIDS Hotline at 1-800-FLA- AIDS or 1-800- 352-2437. In Spanish, call 1-800- 545-SIDA.