"Take the test, take control" was the theme on Wednesday at the Jackson County Health Department. Wednesday was also known around the nation as National HIV Testing Day.
25 people came out to the Health Department find out their status and Jackson County resident Sharon Porter was one of them. "As a part of loving yourself and loving others and having respect, the best thing you can do is use your head, take responsibility for your own actions and get tested," says Porter.
But in addition to taking a blood test, pamphlets of information were available to residents to learn more about the virus…a virus Jackson County Health Educator Rick Vitale calls an "equal opportunity disease," as Florida ranks third in the nation in documented HIV cases. He also says awareness of HIV/AIDS is important now more than ever as more cases are popping up un in the Panhandle. "Right now in the South and the southern areas of the U.S., HIV is one the rise and because of that, it's good to know your status."
Health officials say funds for prevention programs aren't as available as they used to be and outlets like social media websites could provide a better way to spread awareness. The health department does want to remind residents HIV testing and S-T-D testing are available every day, free of charge.