South Florida AIDS Network Monthly Meeting

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The South Florida AIDS Network (SFAN) functions as the networking and advisory body for the Florida Department of Health (FL-DOH) Ryan White Care (RWC) program in Broward County. Its monthly meetings are open to the public.

This meeting consisted of local reports, an agency presentation, and a brief discussion of perceived problems. 

Joshua Rodriguez, FL-DOH RWC, reported that 85 percent of clients enrolled in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) had achieved viral submission. FL-DOH RWC has set a goal for 2017 of 90 percent virally suppression. 

This year, 1,175 ADAP clients have enrolled in Marketplace plans, according to Rodriguez. While 78 percent of those clients have enrolled in Florida Blue, 16 percent have enrolled in Molina. The rest have enrolled in either Ambetter or Humana. Despite confusion about future of the Marketplace, FL-DOH RWC will continue to enroll people in its plans. Rodriguez said that they would “continue to run business as usual unless told otherwise.” 

Rodriguez announced that Florida plans to implement a voluntary same-day HIV “Test and Treat” program. Under this program, someone could choose to begin HIV treatment on the same day that they first tested HIV-positive. FL-DOH RWC has set a target date of May 1, 2017 to begin this voluntary “Test and Treat” program.

Alexis Howard discussed her agency, the Sarasota-based Community AIDS Network (CAN-Sarasota). This private non-profit has 24 clinics throughout Florida. It recently opened a clinic in Miami. Howard announced that CAN-Sarasota plans to open a clinic in Broward by the fall of 2017. CAN-Sarasota provides medical, social, and educational services.

Howard described CAN-Sarasota’s services. Its Miami clinic provides PrEP, an on-site lab, and emergency financial assistance. Howard reported that it provides tests for many sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It conducts blood tests for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and herpes. The Miami clinic tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea in the penis, rectum, throat, and vagina. It also provides anal pap smears to test for human papillomavirus (HPV) and risk for anal cancer.

While Broward County has many sites providing STI testing, it may need more. This county has higher infection rates per 100,000 than the rest of Florida for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis. Epidemiologists standardize infection rates per 100,000 people to compare groups that differ in size.

CAN has partnered with four other organizations. Those partners are Pridelines of Miami, Family Foundation, Latinos Salud, and the Health Planning Council of South Florida. 

Joey Wynn, chair of SFAN, reported on some perceptions that surfaced at the March SFAN meeting. Wynn stressed that perceptions can differ from facts.

Some people believed that in a “Test and Treat” program, treatment would be required. According to Rodriguez, the patient will have the right to decline treatment in Broward’s “Test and Treat” program.

Some people believed that no services exist in Broward for high-risk HIV negative gay and bi men. They felt that condom distribution was the only service available for this group. (Note: The Pride Center, Care Resource, and other agencies have PrEP programs.) Some were also unaware of any local groups to build self-esteem among this group.

SFAN selected an ad hoc task force to explore these issues further.  

Announcements

The Broward HIV Prevention Planning Council will meet on April 20, from 1:30 to 4:30 at 2421 SW 6th Ave, Fort Lauderdale.  This meeting will take place in the main auditorium.

Next SFAN Meeting:  Friday, May 5, 2017 at 10 a.m., at the Holy Cross Healthplex, 1000 NE 56th Street, Fort Lauderdale. Newcomers are encouraged to attend.

For more information on the Sarasota-based Community AIDS Network, please visit https://www.cccsrq.org/our-mission/

Follow Sean McShee on Twitter @SeanMcShee 


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