Florida needs to increase HIV awareness and testing to catch diagnoses early
In 2010, approximately 5,200 Florida residents were diagnosed with HIV and 24 of them were younger than 13 years old, according to Florida's Department of Health. In addition, there were nearly 3,500 new AIDS cases reported throughout the state that same year.
The Florida Times Union reported on a female state resident who arrived to the emergency room complaining of chest pain and body aches. After doing some tests, a physician told her that she had HIV, which had gone undiagnosed for years. Over the time that she should have received treatment slowing the progression of HIV, the virus killed off most of her CD4 cells, which are needed by the body in order for it to fight infection.
A case such as this represents how important it is for people to become aware of testing options. Early diagnoses can help HIV-positive individuals start treatment sooner rather than later, and ultimately, live long and healthy lives.
Currently, Florida law mandates that healthcare facilities have patients sign consent forms for HIV testing. This may make it less convenient for doctors to screen for the virus, the news source reported.