The Institute of Women’s Health of North America Increases its Outreach by Offering Free and Confidential HIV Testing in Florida

We are well into the third decade of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic and yet, with all the effort and resources expended, the rate of HIV infection remains high particularly in the minority population.

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As of December 2007, 1,051,875 AIDS cases were reported in the U.S; 114,057 were in the State of Florida. Florida ranked third in the nation in the number of AIDS cases and third in the rate per 100,000. An estimated 125,000 people or approximately 11.7% of the national estimates of 1,185,000 are currently thought to be HIV-infected in Florida.

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Cumulatively through December 2007, of all the states and territories in the U.S., Florida ranked 3rd in the number of AIDS cases reported; Miami also ranked 3rd in metropolitan statistical areas reporting highest number of AIDS cases. In paediatric population, Florida is 2nd behind New York in the number of HIV cases reported.

HIV case ranking data compiled by the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis shows that during the January – July 2009 reporting period, three (3) of the counties that we serve (Broward, Hillsborough and Orange) were in the top-five counties in the state with the highest HIV case rankings. Interestingly, the HIV caseloads in these counties accounted for 30% of all HIV cases reported in Florida. In Florida (as in the nation), majority of HIV cases reported in 2008 were among blacks (46%) as compared to whites (34%); minorities account for approximately 60% of all reported HIV cases in the state of Florida.
“Given these statistics and the growing need in the counties that we serve, the role that the healthcare providers in the Institute of Women’s Health of North America (IWHNA) can play in the prevention, counseling, risk reduction, treatment and referral of patients with HIV and/or AIDS is critical” said Abdul Sohail Rao, MD, MA, DPhil, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Research Officer of the Institute.

As a consequence, the Institute has expanded its network of services for providing outstanding clinical care, cutting edge clinical and behavioral research, education and community outreach by establishing six affiliated campuses in four counties in Florida. The campuses are located in Daytona Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Greater Tampa Bay, Ocala, Orlando – Downtown, and Winter Park. To learn more about these campuses and their location, please visit our website: Campus Locations.

All affiliated campuses of IWHNA have already received State approval to provide to high risk population, free and confidential HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral services. These services are being provided free-of-charge by State-certified counselors working under the direction of Dr. Abdul Sohail Rao who serves as the Medical Director of this program for the Institute.

The Institute will be extending its services to other counties in the State where the demand for provision of such quality services far outweighs the available opportunities for the community. Healthcare providers in the Institute and its affiliated campuses are already engaged in testing for many other communicable diseases such as Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, etc., and screening for cervical cancers. We anticipate combining these services for high-risk uninsured and underinsured population and providing them either free of charge (preferable) and/or at markedly discounted and affordable rates.

To continue to provide these services, the Institute relies heavily on generous benevolence of its long-term benefactors. As such, under the direction of the Board and Dr. Abdul Sohail Rao, the CEO, the Institute has initiated a state-wide development campaign entitled “Bridging the Disparity in Women’s Healthcare”. It is envisioned that in FY 2009-10, the Institute would need >$1 million to provide much need care to uninsured and underinsured indigent residing in our area of service. We urge you to donate generously to this great cause by visiting our website: Donate to IWHNA.

With Dr. Abdul Sohail Rao as the Principal Investigator, the Institute has also submitted a grant application to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This >$2.4 million grant will provide much needed support for HIV Counseling, Testing and Referral services to men and women in the expansive community that we serve. Additional grants and contracts are also being sought to continue to preserve and expand our services in our six affiliated campuses in the state.

To learn more about the Institute of Women’s Health of North America, please visit our website: www.iwhna.org or call us on 1-407-248-1644.

To locate a campus near you which offers free and confidential HIV testing services, please visit this webpage:   HIV testing centers

The Institute of Women’s Health of North America, Inc., is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization established in the State of Florida in 1997. Its mission is to improve women’s health through outstanding clinical care, cutting-edge clinical and behavioral research, education and community outreach. It has affiliated campuses in six cities in Florida and is planning to extend its services to other underserved areas in the state and the nation.

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