Rainbow Democrats President Brandon Nelson released the following statement on World AIDS Day 2019:

“World AIDS Day was established in 1988 to bring awareness to and fight against the HIV/AIDS virus.  It is also a day to stand in solidarity with those who are living with HIV, and to honor those who have died from an HIV/AIDS related illness.

According to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), there were 4,906 new HIV diagnoses in 2018 and that there are approximately 12,735 people living with HIV in Orlando. Orlando has been named the city with the highest HIV rate in Florida. We encourage every sexually active adult to get tested for HIV/AIDS and any other STDs/STIs so you know your status.

There have been major advances in scientific medicine to help suppress and prevent the spread of the virus, including the invention of Anti-retroviral therapy medicines for the treatment of HIV and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV. Still, even with these advances in medicine, there is no cure for HIV and there is still a heavy stigma & discrimination towards those who have HIV. Once known as GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency), HIV’s biggest stigma is that it is the “gay man’s disease” because it was believed that only gay men could contract and spread the virus. We know now that of course is not the case. We have come so far, but still have so far to go to not only fight HIV/AIDS, but also fight the stigma that still remains. In a recent article from The Advocate, it is said that more than 1 quarter of HIV-negative millennials avoid contact with someone who is HIV-positive.

Since there has been medical advancement in the decades since the AIDS epidemic came to light, people who have the virus are now able to live long, healthy, and regular lives while adhering to treatment.

If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV, know that you are not alone. There are resources available for you in your area to help you understand your diagnosis, get you in contact with physicians who can immediately start you on a treatment plan to help you get to undetectable, and much more. In addition to your doctor’s office, here are a few locations in Orlando, FL that provide HIV testing & counseling services:

The LGBT+ Center
946 N. Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
HIV testing available 7 days a week!
Monday-Friday 9am-8pm
Saturday and Sunday 9am-4pm

Hope & Help
407-645-2577

Florida Department of Health (FDOH)
Orange County Health Department
407-858-1000

Orlando Immunology Center (OIC)
1707 N. Mills Ave.
Orlando, FL 32803
407-647-3960

As we observe today, Sunday, December 1, 2019 as the 31st annual World AIDS Day, let us fight hard to erase the HIV/AIDS stigma, and resolve to work tirelessly to find a cure.”

Below are some links for more information about World AIDS Day, HIV statistics, and a link to donate to a great organization, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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