Okaloosa County Health Department received a national award for best practices in working to prevent HIV infections.

CDC/MGN Online

National HIV Testing Day is Monday. But, ahead of that day, Bay County health officials are offering free HIV testing in several Panhandle counties.

HIV testing
Raj Taneja via Flickr

Florida is one of the top states in the nation with the most HIV cases. Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) is pushing a bill to expand testing requirements.

More than 100,000 Floridians are HIV positive according to the Florida Department of Health, but the rate of new cases is also decreasing. Thompson wants to move the figure even lower by expanding testing. SB 512 would make HIV-testing a regular thing—like when physicians check glucose or cholesterol levels. Co-Sponsor Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) says HIV awareness needs to be promoted.

HIV testing
Raj Taneja via Flickr

Testing more Floridians for HIV is the goal of a bill that passed its first committee today. The measure would allow doctors offer the test without the paperwork currently required.

The AIDS Institute is a national advocacy and research group based in Tampa. Executive Director Michael Ruppal traveled to the Capitol Monday.

“The next thing that we would really like to do is to require HIV testing as part of an annual visit. I mean, that would be ultimately our dream goal,” he says.

A Tallahassee-Leon County workgroup plans to inquire about the sexually transmitted infection rates at area universities and colleges. The committee is trying to find out what makes the county’s infection rate among the worst in the state, even compared with other college towns.

Tuesday’s meeting of the HIV/AIDS and STDs Working Group focused on a disturbing statistic, shared by Annelise Mennicke (formerly Martin), an FSU doctoral student assisting the workgroup with research:

“Leon County is No. 1 in the state for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.”