Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Florida HIV Cases Rank 2nd Highest in Nation

TALLAHASSEE, FL– Today marks the observance of World AIDS Day, and it comes as the number of people in Florida living with HIV continues to grow. Fifty-nine hundred were diagnosed in 2013; 1,000 more than the year before. Florida ranks second nationally in the number of new cases.

Epidemiologist Dr. Tim Jones says the increase is a concern, but a positive note is those who are infected are living longer.

"With better drugs and protocols for taking care of folks, people are living much, much longer than they were a decade or two ago," Jones says. "Many folks are actually living a normal lifespan, which is really exciting."

Regardless of risk, Jones says it is recommended every person be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime.

Jones notes, the group with the greatest risk of contracting HIV continues to be men who have sex with men, but he says increased outreach is also needed to Florida's communities of color.

"African-Americans are, on a per capita basis, about three times more likely to have HIV than the general population," says Jones. "That's clearly a group which we target for prevention as well."

In Florida, more than 70 percent of HIV patients are black or Hispanic. As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide, and an estimated 35 million are living with HIV.

Photos/graphics added by the Observer

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