Dan Mitton, director of education for the Island Coast AIDS Network (ICAN) in Fort Myers, says Florida is outpacing some of the larger states in the number of women who are testing positive for the first time.
“When you take our total number of new infections of women in 2009, we had the highest new infection out of all 50 states. California which is number one for women and children was far behind us. New York which is number two overall nationally, they were behind us in new cases in women,” said Mitton.
Mitton added that infection rates in women – of all racial and ethnic backgrounds -- may be higher in Florida because the state does a better job than others in testing outreach and education. To encourage testing, the Florida Department of Health has teamed up with community partners statewide to recognize the 17th annual observance of National HIV Testing Day on Monday, June 27.
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone from age 13 through 64 have an HIV test as part of their annual physical exam.
The most recent HIV diagnostic tool is a rapid 20-minute test. As in a pregnancy test, a negative or positive sign will appear on the stick at the end of twenty minutes.
“The way this works, it’s really simple. It’s a mouth swab. What you’re going to do is put it mouth, you’re going to run it across your upper gum and then you’re going to run it across your lower gum and that’s it. Just one time in each direction and then you’re going to hand it back to me,” said Mitton.
According to the state Department of Health, more than a dozen Floridians become infected with HIV/AIDS each day. Approximately 135,000 Floridians are currently infected, with 20 percent unaware of their status.
This month marks three decades since the virus which causes HIV was first identified.
Monday, 27 June 2011 13:58