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State Targets Pinellas, Hillsborough, Five Other Counties To Combat HIV

21 hours ago

More than $490,000 is being doled out to seven Florida counties, including Hillsborough and Pinellas, as part of a national effort to try to eradicate HIV and AIDS in the next 10 years.

South Florida researchers believe they're one step closer to developing a more effective vaccine against HIV, after overcoming a virus that infects monkeys.

Nicknamed the "Death Star," SIVmac239 is a particularly resilient immunodeficiency virus that features the same obstacles that have vexed HIV vaccine researchers over the years: the outer layers around the viruses mutate quickly. It's like the immune system is trying to track a shapeshifter—a defense against the viruses works, and then it doesn't.

There's a proposal in Tallahassee right now that could make it easier for injection drug users to trade dirty needles for fresh ones -- preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

A trial project in Miami Dade County is the only legal needle exchange in Florida. The bill would let the other counties to create something similar.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new study suggests that many Florida men are still having unprotected sex despite telling their partners they're HIV positive.

AIDS Group Seeks To Prevent Patient Shift

Feb 6, 2019

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has filed a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court arguing that it’s illegal for the state to require patients with HIV and AIDS in Southeast Florida to switch Medicaid managed-care plans by the end of the month. 

Madison Waldron has an app on her phone that, on the surface, looks and acts a lot like a fitness tracker. But then there are the survey questions it pushes out to her:

"Questions in regards to what I do for a living, education and things like that," she says as she thumbs through her phone, showing her scheduled doctor visits. "And I get questions as far as my sexual history and my practices."

This story has been updated with additional context at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16 2019.

What started as an idea to build more affordable housing in Downtown Fort Lauderdale has become a growing fight between residents, a developer and city officials. 

 

 

Florida could soon allow sterile needle exchanges across the state.

Imagine being identified by the wrong gender in the lobby of your own doctor’s office, or having trouble finding a job, or being rejected by your own family, because you are a transgender person.

These situations complicate an already difficult daily experience for trans people, and they increase the risk of HIV among an already-vulnerable population in South Florida, according to a new study by Human Rights Watch.

Judge Rejects State Contracts For HIV And AIDS Care

Nov 21, 2018

An administrative law judge recommended Tuesday that the state Agency for Health Care Administration toss aside agreements it signed for treatment of Medicaid beneficiaries with HIV and AIDS in three South Florida counties.

There's a bridge in Overtown, under the 836 Expressway, that has long sheltered homeless people, many of whom are addicted to heroin.

Now a public health investigation is looking into a group of new HIV cases there. That’s part of what prompted Miami city commissioners to pass an emergency resolution to close the street two weeks ago.

A couple of sets of barricades block traffic to the area. Cars can't get through, but people are still staying there.

The First District Court of Appeal ruled Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t have to release calendar and travel records.

An AIDS advocacy group sued Scott for refusing to release the documents as part of a public records request. 

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Rick Scott to get public records related to the state's Medicaid AIDS care contracts. 

Protests Continue Over HIV Medicaid Contract

Aug 2, 2018

A fight over who should provide care for patients struggling with HIV and AIDS is growing increasingly bitter as opponents continue to blame Gov. Rick Scott. 

While South Florida continues to have the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses in the country, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Latino men have the highest rates of HIV infection among different demographic groups. 

New research shows more promise for using AIDS treatment drugs as a prevention tool, to help keep uninfected people from catching HIV during sex with a partner who has the virus.

State AIDS, Mental Health Changes Spur Protests

Jul 20, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott is coming under fire for his administration's decisions to shift tens of thousands of patients with serious mental illness or HIV into new Medicaid health plans in the coming months, changes that could force many patients to switch doctors.

State Faces 27 Medicaid Contract Challenges

Jul 13, 2018

After a lengthy process that involved awarding tens of billions of dollars in Medicaid contracts, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration now will have to try to fend off legal challenges from health plans that were denied contracts. 

South Florida continues to have the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses in the country, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

On average, for every hundred thousand Americans, about 15 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2016, the most recent year of data analyzed by the CDC.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Several Florida Department of Health locations are recognizing Wednesday, June 27 as National HIV Testing Day with free testing throughout the week.

Casey Brooke Lawson/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation

With Florida and St. Petersburg repeatedly ranking high for rates of HIV and AIDS, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) opened a new clinic on Monday near the Skyway Marina District.

AIDS Foundation Protests Over Medicaid Contracting

Apr 13, 2018

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s headquarters in Tallahassee were the site Thursday of the third demonstration in as many days by supporters of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The largest nonprofit AIDS health-care provider in the nation is at risk of being blocked out of South Florida’s Medicaid market.

The Florida Department of Health will begin offering a drug next year to help prevent the spread of HIV.

Supreme Court Ruling Defines ‘Sexual Intercourse’

Mar 20, 2017

In a case stemming from a law that requires HIV-infected people to inform potential sexual partners about the disease, the Florida Supreme Court this week said a legal definition of "sexual intercourse" goes beyond relations between men and women.

For decades, Cassandra Steptoe felt like she couldn't talk about her HIV diagnosis with anyone.

"I couldn't forgive myself for getting HIV," says Steptoe, who spent much of her early adult life in and out of jail for shoplifting and burglaries linked to her IV drug use. "But someone told me a long time ago, if you are looking for a reason to feel shame, you can always find it. I learned to look for something else: forgiveness."

The Florida Department of Health is pushing back against the Tampa Bay Times for criticizing a revision in the number of the new HIV cases in the state.

State Surgeon General John Armstrong, who heads the Florida Department of Health, has faced scrutiny from lawmakers recently on a number of high-profile issues. The issues include the state's rising HIV rate, cuts to county health departments and 9,000 kids who lost places in the Children's Medical Services program --- which serves youngsters with "serious and chronic" conditions --- under a new eligibility screening process last year.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it will now allow gay men to donate blood, but there's a catch.

Associated Press

Today is World AIDS Day, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is first in the nation when it comes to newly diagnosed cases of HIV--the virus that can lead to AIDS.

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