HIV is more preventable now than ever before. In spite of that, just three years ago there were more than 108,000 people living with HIV in the state of Florida. METRO Inclusive Health, a Tampa Bay-based nonprofit providing vital health and wellness services for the LGBTQ+ community, now offers new service, both for testing and for treatment, that could curb the rise of infections.
In 2016, 512 of every 100,000 people were living with HIV in Pinellas County, according to AIDSVu, an organization presented by Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University.
In 2017, another 4,700 HIV infections were reported in the state.
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, can prevent HIV up to 99% if taken daily. Today, if HIV+ individuals get quick access to modern care, the vast majority will live a normal lifespan with little to no complications.
Officials with METRO Inclusive Health, a nonprofit providing vital health and wellness services to the Tampa Bay community, say the true epidemic is the lack of access to care.
METRO Inclusive Health operates out of a facility near the Kenwood neighborhood at 3251 3rd Avenue North. A second space located in the historic German-American Club in Ybor City, is slated to open in 2020.
Free HIV testing locations can be found all over Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties:
- 3251 3rd Avenue North, St. Petersburg
- 2227 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
- 32349 Sunset Point Road, Suite 405, Clearwater
- 3150 5th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
- 1315 East 7th Avenue, Suite 201, Tampa
- 408 East Cayuga Street, Tampa
- 4747 US Highway 19, New Port Richey
Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as two of the most burdened counties in the U.S. with regards to new HIV infections, according to a release.
Trends and statistics from the CDC and local health departments provide a first-hand look at high-risk communities in our area:
- African Americans represent the highest proportion of persons who received an HIV Diagnosis in the state at 42%
- The CDC predicts that if trends continue, one in two African American and one in four Hispanic men that sleep with men are likely to contract HIV in their lifetime
- The Florida Department of Health states that 63% of those diagnosed with HIV were African American females over the age of 50
By shortening testing time, METRO hopes to increase numbers while also expanding community outreach, education and testing to more high-risk individuals.
The INSTI, or the “1-Minute HIV Test,” was just recently approved by the Florida Department of Health.
Want to get involved? View METRO’s community events calendar to see what the nonprofit has going on in the community in the months to come. On Saturday, November 9, METRO will host its annual cocktail party with special musical guest Deborah Cox.
Donations are a pivotal part to ensuring METRO can continue to put on programming, and provide essential health services for those in need. Click HERE to learn more about donations.
Another way to give back is through METRO’s Copay it Forward initiative.
Here’s how it works:
Your regular insurance copay at Metro Inclusive Health for Primary Care or prescriptions, is giving back. With most major insurances, medicaid and medicare accepted, your health services in turn provide healthcare, counseling and medications to those who are uninsured. Plus, as a patient, you’ll be receiving the most advanced approach to healthcare.