Today is World AIDS Day, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is first in the nation when it comes to newly diagnosed cases of HIV--the virus that can lead to AIDS.
In 2014, 6,132 people were newly diagnosed with HIV, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Local health clinics are using the day to raise awareness around the Tampa Bay area. Maggie Hall, of the Pinellas County health department, said that about half of those infected with HIV aren't aware because they don't get tested.
"We had 10 cases of AIDS reported in October 2015 and 31 cases of HIV," she said. "Now, as of the end of October in Pinellas--that's 103 AIDS cases and 274 HIV."
Today, the Pinellas health department will be having free testing, food and entertainment from noon until 4 p.m. at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg. Free health screenings around Pinellas are being held at these locations:
Hillsborough County has the fifth highest number of HIV cases in the state. Steve Huard, of Hillsborough's health department, said that the end of the spread of AIDS begins with people knowing their HIV status.
"We strongly encourage everyone in the community to get tested so that they know their status," he said. "That is absolutely how we help make these numbers start going down."
Free health screenings will be available at Hillsborough's health department in downtown Tampa Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.. There will also be a health fair that will provide people with more information about the disease and about sexual health, Huard said.
To find a health clinic nearby, visit floridahealth.gov