HIV PREVENTION PROGRAM
- In 2021, 36,136 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States. The annual number of new diagnoses decreased 7% from 2017 to 2021.
- An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States had HIV at the end of 2021.
- In 2021, male-to-male sexual contact accounted for 67% (24,107) of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States. In the same year, heterosexual contact accounted for 22% (8,059) of all HIV diagnoses.
- In 2020, 51% of those newly diagnosed with HIV lived in the South. This is the highest region of newly diagnosed individuals in the United States.
- An estimated 1.5 million individuals worldwide acquired HIV in 2021, marking a 32% decline in new HIV infections since 2010.
- AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 68% since the peak in 2004. In 2021, around 650,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 2 million people in 2004 and 1.4 million in 2010.
To address HIV in the South Health District, the HIV Prevention Program provides free HIV testing, linkage to care for persons who are diagnosed HIV positive, and linkage to PrEP for those who are HIV negative but are engaging in activities which place them at high risk for HIV infection. Studies have consistently found that HIV negative persons on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, do not become HIV positive, and HIV positive persons linked to care who achieve viral suppression (undetectable) live healthy lives and do not infect others.
The goal of the HIV Prevention Program is to provide a seamless system of healthcare which ensures that whether someone needs prevention services or HIV care, they can have their needs met.
HIV PREVENTION SERVICES PROVIDED
- Free HIV tests
- Free condoms
- Linkage to HIV Care
- Linkage to PrEP
- Community education and Screenings
The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help take the steps to keep you and your partner healthy!
All health departments in the South Health District provide HIV testing at no charge. This includes Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift and Turner.
What should I expect?
HIV testing is 100% confidential and conducted by certified HIV Testing Counselors. Your Testing Counselor will talk to you about HIV risk factors, answer your questions and discuss prevention measures. A sample is collected through a small finger prick and the result of your rapid HIV antibody test is completed in as quickly as one minute.
What if my test is reactive/positive?
A confirmatory test will be conducted. If that follow-up test is also positive, it is a confirmed HIV diagnosis and you will be connected to a Linkage Coordinator.
Contact Information: HIV testing, condom distribution, and outreach requests: (229) 245-8711
Call our confidential condom line at (229) 245-8711, Ext. 208. and leave your name, mailing address, phone number (only needed for address confirmation) and preferred condom pack (Magnum pack, variety pack, non-latex male pack, or internal condoms – previously known as female condoms), and we will mail them to you.
Linkage Coordinators assist both newly and previously diagnosed HIV-positive individuals access care and services.
For additional information or to refer a client, providers may contact the Linkage to Care Program at (229) 245-8711.
PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a short course of HIV medicines taken very soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from taking hold in your body. You must start it within 72 hours (3 days) after a possible exposure to HIV, or it won’t work. Every hour counts! PEP should be used only in emergency situations. It is not meant for regular use by people who may be exposed to HIV frequently. PEP may be available at your local county health departments and/or local emergency rooms. If you’re prescribed PEP, you’ll need to take it daily for 28 days. While taking PEP, condoms and other prevention methods should still be used to help prevent HIV and STI’s.
“PrEP” stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool which prevents HIV negative individuals with very high risk behavior from becoming HIV positive. PrEP combined with condoms and other prevention methods provide even greater protection to prevent HIV and STI than when used alone. Individuals who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months. To get started on PrEP, please contact Lowndes County Health Department to make an appointment.
Community outreach plays a key role in delivering prevention services to our community. While we offer a variety of services, our staff also provides testing and education services throughout the South Health District. Whether testing off-site, attending health fairs, or providing education to classrooms, our Prevention Specialists are equipped to provide a high-quality testing experience in addition to up-to-date information regarding HIV prevention strategies
General Phone Line: (229) 245-8711
HIV Prevention Coordinator Ebony Resurreccion: (229) 245-8711 ext. 208
PrEP Navigator Ansherri Scales: (229) 245-6447
Linkage to Care Debbie Gray: (229) 245-8711 ext. 230
Health Educator Melissa Foster: (229) 245-8711 ext. 291