AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2014, 2,107 individuals were reported as “People Living With HIV and AIDS” (PLWHA) in Polk County. From January 1 to December 31, 2014, there were 112 new HIV cases reported to the Florida Department of Health in Polk County. We believe that even one newly reported case is one too many. That is why FDOH-Polk is committed to working with our community partners in helping us “Get to Zero” — the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day.
HIV/AIDS is a serious infection, but, with the proper care and treatment, a person can live a long and healthy life. In Polk County, the Florida Department of Health is the leading provider of HIV testing and treatment services. Our Lakeland location and Specialty Care Clinic in Bartow function as one-stop shops to provide these services. We do this in three ways:
• TALK: We work to inform residents, patients, and their loved ones about the facts of this disease.
• TEST: We have a robust testing and outreach team that move throughout our community offering opportunities to know your status.
• TREAT: We provide treatment services for patients living with HIV and AIDS.
Individuals and communities can observe World AIDS Day by becoming educated about HIV/AIDS, getting tested, and knowing their personal status. One of the biggest obstacles with HIV is that many people who have it are unaware that they do, so they may unknowingly spread the disease.
The Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis division has developed one of the nation’s most comprehensive programs for HIV/AIDS surveillance, education, prevention, counseling, testing, care, and treatment.
For information on HIV/AIDS and STD services provided through the health department, including confidential testing and treatment, please visit us online at www.mypolkhealth.org, or call our office at (863) 519-8233 to speak with someone directly.
For more information on AIDS, please visit www.FloridaAIDS.org. You may also call the Florida AIDS Hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS. Information is available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole or through a text telephone (TTY) line at (888) 530-7118.
article by DR. JOY JACKSON
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk). For more information about FDOH-Polk, visit www.mypolkhealth.net.