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Sunday, October 1, 2023

National HIV Testing Day: Health officials hosting event at Paddock Mall

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County is hosting an event at the Paddock Mall this week in recognition of National HIV Testing Day.

The annual observance takes place on June 27th and highlights the importance of HIV testing. This year’s theme is “Take the Test and Take the Next Step,” which emphasizes that awareness of your HIV status can help you choose options to stay healthy.

On Tuesday, June 27, the Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) will host a free outreach event at the Paddock Mall (3100 SW College Road in Ocala) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the event, health officials will provide materials about HIV, the importance of testing, and other educational resources.

DOH-Marion encourages residents to take the opportunity to get tested and learn about the options for HIV treatment and prevention. According to the health department, studies have shown that providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) shortly after diagnosis improves a patient’s health, reduces transmission, and can eventually lead to undetectable HIV viral loads.

In order to reduce the risk for HIV, individuals can use appropriate prevention strategies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), using protection, and getting tested regularly, according to DOH-Marion.

“HIV prevention and treatment starts with knowing your status, which means getting tested,” states DOH-Marion. The health department offers routine HIV testing by appointment or walk-in, and PrEP services are also available by appointment.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact the Florida Department of Health in Marion County at 352-629-0137.

To learn more about HIV testing options or to order a free at-home HIV testing kit mailed directly to an address of your choice, visit the Know Your HIV Status website.