Skip Global navigation and goto content

It's a New Day in Public Health.

The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

Skip MegaMenu and goto content

DOH-Marion to hold special HIV testing events in honor of National HIV Testing Day

By Florida Department of Health in Marion County

June 21, 2021

 

OCALA, Fla.—Finding out your HIV status doesn’t have to take long. In fact, you can receive results in as few as 15 minutes with a special rapid test. Fortunately, residents will soon have an opportunity to get this free quick test or receive a free at-home test to learn their status.

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County will be providing free rapid and needle-free testing and at-home HIV testing kits at two upcoming events this week. Events will be held:

  • Thursday, June 24, at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church (123 SW Third Ave., Ocala). Testing will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church’s health building.
  • Friday, June 25, at Greater New Hope – Silver Springs Shores (484 Emerald Road, Ocala). Testing will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Participants receive free lunch with testing courtesy of the host churches. Anyone age 13 years old or older can be tested; no parental consent is needed.

Education on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) will also be provided. PrEP is medicine that people who are at-risk for HIV can take that can substantially reduce their risk of contracting HIV (when used as prescribed).

DOH-Marion is holding the special testing events in honor of National HIV Testing Day, which is recognized on June 27 each year. First observed in 1995, National HIV Testing Day is a time to encourage people to get tested for HIV, know their status and get linked to care and treatment.

The 2021 theme for National HIV Testing Day is “My Test, My Way,” and emphasizes that there are different ways and places to be tested for HIV, including at home with a self-test.

If you would like to get tested for HIV and are not able to attend one of the events, the Department of Health in Marion County offers free HIV testing Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; call 352-629-0137 to make an appointment for testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all individuals ages 13 to 64 be tested for HIV at least once during their lifetime and that persons at increased risk for HIV infection be tested at least annually.

“By knowing your HIV status, you have the power to take care of your health,” said Florida Department of Health in Marion County Administrator Mark Lander. “If you test positive, we have resources to get you into care and on medications that help control your health and reduce the risk of it transmitting to others.”

Florida remains a national leader in HIV testing, with more than 1,400 registered HIV test sites (including each county health department and community-based organizations), which provide high-quality, confidential testing services at low or no cost. Testing is also available through doctors’ offices and other health care facilities.

With early diagnosis, individuals can begin appropriate treatment and care, resulting in better health outcomes. Studies have shown that providing antiretroviral therapy as early as possible after diagnosis improves a patient’s health, reduces transmission, and with continued antiretroviral therapy, can eventually lead to undetectable HIV viral loads.

You can locate HIV counseling, testing and referral sites by texting ‘FLHIV’ to 898211 or visiting www.KnowYourHIVStatus.com.

For more information, call the Florida HIV/AIDS Hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS or 1-800-352-2437; en Español, 1-800-545-SIDA; in Creole, 1-800-AIDS-101. To chat with a live counselor at the Florida HIV/AIDS Hotline, visit www.211bigbend.org/flhivaidshotline.