Rainbow Democrats President Brandon Nelson released the following statement on World AIDS Day 2020:

What began 32 years ago to bring awareness to and fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, World AIDS Day continues to draw attention to this ongoing global epidemic. It is also a day to stand in solidarity with those living with HIV and memorialize those we have lost from an HIV/AIDS-related illness.

HIV Treatment and prevention is costly. If you can, please consider contributing to an organization that helps offset the costs associated with HIV treatment, including life-saving medications. This is the 2nd year for the Rainbow Democrats annual holiday fundraiser. The purpose of our fundraiser is to raise funds for our organization while also donating half the proceeds of the fundraiser to an LGBTQ+ affirming community organization. This year, the beneficiary of half the proceeds of our fundraiser will be the Hope & Help Center of Central Florida. Please consider contributing to our holiday fundraiser and support the Rainbow Democrats AND Hope & Help. This is how we are giving back to our community. In addition to today being World AIDS Day, today is also Giving Tuesday. Give to an organization(s) that make a difference in your community and the world.

According to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), there were 4,906 new HIV diagnoses in 2018, and approximately 12,735 people are living with HIV in Orlando. Orlando has been named the city with the 2nd highest HIV rate in Florida & the nation. Click here for a fact sheet on people living with HIV in Orange County, FL. Here is a link to a demographic-specific fact sheet on HIV rates in Florida.

We encourage every sexually active adult to get tested for HIV/AIDS and any other STDs/STIs so you know your status. 2020 has been no ordinary year. People living with the HIV/AIDS virus now have to contend with another life-threatening virus: COVID-19 (coronavirus). The Florida Department of Health has put together a FAQ page about COVID-19 and HIV.

There have been significant 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 people living with HIV. Once known as GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency), HIV’s most prominent 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 is not the case. We have come so far but still have so far to go to fight HIV/AIDS and fight the stigma that remains. In a 2019 article from The Advocate, it is said that more than one-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 living with the virus can now 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. Resources that will get you in contact with physicians who can immediately get you connected to 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:

Piñero Preventative Medical Care (Dr. Rafael Piñero is a sponsor and board member of the Rainbow Democrats.)
1720 S. Orange Ave., Suite 200, Orlando, FL 32806
407-426-9693
Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

The LGBT+ Center
946 N. Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
*HIV testing available seven days a week!
Monday-Friday 9 am-8 pm
Saturday and Sunday 9 am-4 pm
*Contact The Center for more info on operating hours as they may have changed due to COVID-19 precautions*

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, Tuesday, December 1, 2020, as World AIDS Day, let us continue to fight the HIV/AIDS stigma and resolve to work tirelessly to find a cure and finally eradicate the virus from the Earth.

Below are some links for more information about World AIDS Day, HIV statistics, and a link to donate to one of the nation’s leading industry-based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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