MIAMI -- On World AIDS Day, South Florida has the highest number of HIV cases in the US, in spite of new medicines.
As we arrive at another World AIDS Day, the Centers for Decease Control say the nation is experiencing an 8% decline on cases of HIV. Yet, that does not apply to South Florida.
Miami-Dade and Broward are the two counties in the country with the highest cases of HIV, according to the Florida Dept. Of Health.
"There are several reasons why South Florida has such high rates, we are a region of immigrants. Many of the educational things we learn and take for granted, people did not learn in their home country,"' said Stephen Fallon, from Latinos Salud in Wilton Manors.
Fallon is the executive director for the non-profit clinics with 4 locations in Broward and Miami Dade. They provide the latest tool in the fight against HIV prep.
"The benefit with prep, the pill that prevents HIV is that you don't have to have it with you during the moment of passion, you make a decision in advance," said Fallon as he explains that besides the pill, some can opt for the injection; however, any of the options have to be prescribed.
Latinos Salud provides the service for anybody who fears going to his/her primary doctor, they conduct the test and prescribe the pill the same day, if necessary.
Only those whose results come negative (to HIV), get the pill. Nearly 40 years ago, when the AIDS outbreak that cost the lives of many gay men, there were no real options, but abstinence or contraceptives.
Today, prep, according to Latinos Salud, can be 90% effective in preventing HIV.
"Most of the new HIV cases are gay minorities, Latinos and African Americans," responds Fallon about the reasons for the hike in cases in South Florida.
"Less than one in 20 Latinos and one in 30 African Americans have easy access to the pill.''
Stigma, fear of reporting test results and limited HIV risk education make minorities more vulnerable to contracting the virus that causes HIV.
Florida Health Department revealed that Blacks and Hispanics - ages 20 to 39 -are the most affected of all communities. They even went as far as stating that in Miami-Dade there has been a hike in cases in areas like Doral and Overtown. As far as Broward is concerned, Oakland Park and Fort Laudedale.
"I think is wonderful to have it prep now," said Richard Ortiz, who contracted HIV more than 30 years ago. He reiterates that medicines now that have changed the meaning of having HIV; nevertheless, he thinks that young people, especially young gay men, should take advantage of prep.
"My generation did not have this option. On World AIDS Day, we think of all the friends and relatives we lost to HIV."
For those interested in getting prep, they must know that their insurance must cover the payment. Yet, you can have more information as far as alternatives for payment by contacting the Florida Department of Health or any of the Latinos Salud clinics. They have a webside, all you need is make an appointment and your meeting is strictly confidential.
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