Miami, FL — In recognition of the National HIV Testing Day on June 27th, Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast (PPSFTC) reminds Floridians to “take the test, take control.” PPSFTC offers HIV testing and education in 8 health centers from Vero Beach down through the Keys. To find a Planned Parenthood health center near you, visitwww.ppsoflo.org or call 800-230-PLAN. Florida currently has 5th highest rate of new HIV infections in the nation.
Every 9 and half minutes someone in the U.S. in infected with HIV. Early HIV diagnosis is critical, so that people who are infected can fully benefit from available life-saving treatments. Currently, almost 40 percent of people with HIV are not diagnosed until they already have developed AIDS, which can be up to 10 years after they first became infected with HIV.
Florida has the third highest rate in the nation of new AIDS diagnoses and the fifth highest rate of new HIV infections. In Florida, AIDS-related illnesses are the 9th leading cause of death for teens. In 2007, persons under the age of 25 accounted for 15 percent of new HIV infections in the state.
“The HIV epidemic is real,” said Lillian A. Tamayo, President/CEO of PPSFTC. “Finding out whether you are infected with HIV is the first step to improving your health and the health of your partners and your family.”
While Florida continues to have some of the highest HIV and AIDS rates in the country, there are still no statewide standards for comprehensive sex education. Providing teens and young people with the information they need to make responsible decisions is the commonsense solution to reducing HIV infection rates. Numerous studies have analyzed abstinence-only programs and found them to be ineffective.
A recent report by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and the Healthy Teens Campaign found that abstinence-only programs in Florida provide inaccurate and outdated information, reinforce gender stereotypes, and rely on fear and shame-based tactics to discourage sexual activity. A study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that two-thirds of the examined sex education programs that focus on both abstinence and contraception had a positive effect on teen sexual behavior. And a 2008 Guttmacher Institute report found that most abstinence programs did not delay initiation of sexual activity.
President Barack Obama has consistently supported comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education. President Obama’s budget rejects failed abstinence-only programs that have cost our government more than $1 billion and, instead, invests in evidence-based sex education programs that have been proven effective.
“The National HIV Testing Day serves as a reminder to get tested and to prevent the spread of HIV through education and information,” added Tamayo. “Our youth need comprehensive sex education that is age-appropriate, including the facts that help protect them from HIV/AIDS.”
For more information or to find a Planned Parenthood health center near you, please visit www.ppsoflo.org.
The mission of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and Treasure Coast, Inc. is to provide comprehensive sexual health care through the provision of clinical services, education and advocacy. We do so by understanding and responding to the needs of those seeking our services, and by protecting and respecting the essential privacy rights, dignity and culture of each individual.
June 26, 2009