Pic via dbmathews.com

With World AIDS Day 2011 two days away, there is still an urgent need to strengthen testing, prevention and treatment strategies to decrease the impact of HIV and AIDS in United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vital Signs November report issued today indicates that

about 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the US but about 240,000 don’t know they are infected. Each year, about 50,000 people get infected with HIV in the US. Getting an HIV test is the first step to finding out if you have HIV and getting medical care.

According to the Florida Department of Health:

Florida continues to be heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS, with the third greatest number of cumulative AIDS cases, 121,161, and the second greatest number of cumulative pediatric AIDS cases, 1,542 reported through 2010. An additional 46,795 cases were reported with HIV (not AIDS), of which 612 were under the age of 13 In Florida alone, there were 95,335 people currently living with HIV/AIDS in the state through 2010; 30 percent among whites, 49 percent among blacks, 19 percent among Hispanics and 2 percent among people of other races. Beyond the 95,335 known people living with HIV/AIDS in Florida, it is estimated that there may actually be up 135,000 people with the disease in Florida, yet 20 percent of them do not know they are infected.

This at a time when Florida is home to almost 50 percent of all the people on AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting lists in the U.S. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (known as ADAP) provides medications for the treatment of HIV and AIDS for people who cannot afford to pay because they are unemployed, uninsured or underinsured. States have implemented a variety of cost containment measures that include waiting lists since 2010, when an ADAPs began facing an ongoing funding crisis.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, NASTAD (.pdf), indicates that as of Nov. 17 there were almost 6,600 individuals on ADAP waiting lists in 12 states. The data shows that more than 3,200 of those people live in Florida.

NASTAD recently stated: “Since the release of final FY2011 Ryan White grant awards in September, including $40 million in ADAP emergency relief funding for states with waiting lists or other cost-containment measures in place, some ADAPs have been able to reduce the overall number of individuals on their waiting list.”

Several HIV/AIDS advocates recently told The Florida Independent that the Sunshine State has received a number of increases worth about $7 million in funding for Ryan White, the federal program that manages ADAP dollars, but they also predicted that the number of people on the ADAP waiting list will eventually rise again.

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