As Pinellas HIV Infections Rise, One Local Organization is Taking Action

Metro HIV Testing Prevention

According to the Florida Department of Health, HIV infections are rising in much of Pinellas County, Tampa Bay, and Florida. Metro Wellness and Community Centers is enlisting “My Little PrEPpy” and a free limited run t-shirt to encourage testing and education about PrEP, a daily pill that can reduce exposure to HIV by up to 99%.

Most insurance companies cover PrEP and METRO has cost reduction programs that can provide PrEP at little to no out-of-pocket cost to the individual. METRO is also now offering same day PrEP– meaning one can get their prescription following testing.

Get a FREE My Little PrEPpy Tee with FREE testing at METRO

According to the Florida Department of Health, in Pinellas County among those aged 35-39 HIV infections rose nearly 100%, around 50% among those aged 50-54, and teens aged 13-19 saw an increase of 25%. Among men who sleep with men, HIV infections rose nearly 22%.

Even more disturbing were predictions by the CDC that warned, if trends continue, one in two African American males and one in four Hispanic Males that sleep with men, will end up contracting HIV in their lifetime.

Technically known as, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP is a daily pill, taken like a multivitamin, that is clinically proven to reduce exposure to the HIV virus but up to 99%.

Being one of the first organizations to adequately address HIV care and case management in Tampa Bay in the 1990s, Metro Wellness & Community Centers and CAN Community Health finds themselves at the forefront of testing, awareness, and prevention with PrEP, to battle the growth in HIV infections once again.

It starts with testing, which METRO offers for FREE at five Tampa Bay locations in St. Pete, Tampa, Clearwater and New Port Richey, throughout the week, as well as through mobile testing centers. Visit them online for location information and to learn more about how to get PrEP for little to no cost, to you.

For over 25 years, Metro Wellness & Community Centers has been serving the needs of Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ+ community. While the organization has its roots in HIV care, their dedication to the community created demand in other areas, including primary care, becoming the preferred healthcare provider to many within the LGBTQ+ community in Tampa Bay.

Visit Metro Wellness and Community Centers for more info and free testing locations near you.

Written by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey is the founder of I Love the Burg and That's So Tampa. In addition to regular contributions to each blog, he's been featured as a commentator to Bay New 9, The Tampa Tribune, The Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Bay Business Journal and The Business Observer as well as national outlets including The Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal.