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Starting Thursday, Health Officials Will Hold Several Free HIV Testing Events In Panhandle

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Credit CDC/MGN Online
The Florida Channel

National HIV Testing Day is Monday. But, ahead of that day, Bay County health officials are offering free HIV testing in several Panhandle counties.

Rick Vitale is the HIV-AIDS Program Coordinator for the Bay County Health Department. It covers six areas: Bay, Calhoun, Jackson, Gulf, Holmes, and Washington counties.

“Just in our encatchment area, we know of about 867 people who are HIV positive and we know there are even more people out there, who don’t know their status,” said Vitale. “And, this is why it’s very important to be tested.”

The HIV virus can cause AIDS, and Vitale says early diagnosis is key. That’s why he adds these free testing events over the next week are crucial to helping stop the spread of the disease, especially those engaging in risky behaviors.

“Unprotected sex without condoms, or without any prophylactic medications and/or maybe an HIV drug abuser, or possibly if a mother is pregnant and she is HIV positive and not know it, she could pass it onto her unborn child as well,” Vitale added.

The first day of the free HIV tests is Thursday at 10 a.m. in Calhoun County.

The following is more information on times, dates and locations:

Thursday, June 23

Calhoun County

Calhoun-Liberty County Health Department

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Friday, June 24

Washington County

Piggly Wiggly in Chipley

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Monday, June 27

Bay County

Florida Department of Health Bay County

7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Goodwill Center in Springfield

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 28

Jackson County

Jackson County Habitat for Humanity on Highway 90

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 29

Holmes County

Holmes County Health Department

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 30

Gulf County

Dollar General Market in Port St. Joe

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Eastern

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner .

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