Florida Launching Comprehensive Approach to Eliminate the Spread of HIV+
September 19, 2018
Florida has consistently remained the state with the highest incidence of HIV in the nation with nearly 5,000 new cases diagnosed in 2017 and an estimated total of 117,000 people living with HIV. To reverse this trend which is a priority highlighted in our state health improvement plan (SHIP), the Florida Department of Health (Department) has launched a comprehensive approach to eliminate the spread of HIV in our state that includes: working with health care facilities to implement universal HIV and STI screening; increasing rapid test and treat sites where an individual diagnosed with HIV through a point-of-care test can receive anti-viral medications during the same visit; increasing awareness and access to PrEP and non-occupational post-exposures prophylaxis (nPEP); and increasing HIV awareness in relevant and culturally effective ways. Additionally, the Department is enhancing efforts to assist HIV-positive individuals who are not currently receiving regular care to reconnect with services, with the goal of achieving viral load suppression for as many individuals as possible.
As you may be aware, in 2015 the Florida legislature amended Section 381.004, Florida Statutes to remove the need for separate informed consent prior to HIV testing in a health care setting; there was no change in the law or rule regarding non-health care settings. Removing the requirement for separate informed consent decreases barriers to universal screening and encourages incorporating HIV testing into routine health care. In 2017, the Department revised Florida Administrative Code Rule 64D-2.004 and the Model Protocol for HIV Testing in Health Care Settings to reflect these changes summarized below:
In health care settings, it is no longer required to notify clients that a positive HIV test result, along with identifying information, will be reported to the county health department, nor of the availability and location of sites at which anonymous testing is performed
These changes align the state of Florida more closely with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2006 Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing in Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) 2013 Updated Recommendation for HIV Screening. The USPSTF updated recommendation statement gives a Grade A recommendation for routine HIV screening in adolescents and adults 15–65 years old which indicates that all primary payers including Medicaid and Medicare, will be required to cover routine HIV screening. Model protocols for HIV testing in health care and non-health care settings are available on the Department’s website at, http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/aids/prevention/testing-counseling.html.
If you have any questions regarding these changes or need more information on our HIV/AIDS program, please call 850-245-4422 or email Diseasecontrol@flhealth.gov.
Thank you for your continued commitment and contribution to decrease the impacts of HIV in our state.