Tampa — Florida reported the most new HIV diagnoses of any state in 2019, according to the CDC’s latest HIV Surveillance Report. It logged 4,387 new cases, ahead of California (4,354), Texas (4,302) and Georgia (2,439).

The Sunshine State ranked third in new diagnoses per 100,000 people, behind the District of Columbia and Georgia.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida has more new HIV cases than any other state, CDC reports

  • Data shows minority and the LGBTQ community are disproportionately impacted

  • Doctors say the virus is no longer a death sentence, and early detection is key

“I would like to say I was surprised, but I wasn’t really surprised,” said Joy Winheim, Executive director of Empath Partners in Care (EPIC). “We have been looking at the HIV numbers and the STI numbers over the course of the last year or two years, even, and have noticed an uptick in cases.”

Winheim said the large number of people moving to Florida from other parts of the country could be part of the reason the state grabbed the top spot. Another could be the progress made in prevention and treatment options.


“HIV is not a death sentence anymore,” said Winheim. “If you are HIV-positive, you are going to lead a normal, long, healthy life. People are willing to take the risk without using protection, without using PrEP, because, ‘If I get it, I can just take medicine and I’ll be okay.’”

“There’s a lot more to the story than just the overall number,” said Chris Gudis, Senior director of sexual health and prevention programs for Metro Inclusive Health.

Gudis said local health department information shows racial and ethnic minorities and members of the LGBTQ community are disproportionately impacted by the HIV.

“That speaks to the social issues behind HIV, from a history of racism and structural racism that has contributed to social determinants of health that have promoted poor outcomes in communities of color,” Gudis said.
According to information from the Kaiser Family Foundation and CDC, while Black people make up 12% of the U.S. population, they account for 40% of HIV cases. Hispanic people make up 19% of the population and account for 25% of cases.


Gudis said Metro Inclusive Health follows the national “Ending the HIV Epidemic” strategy to fight the virus locally. He said the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to prevent infections and viral suppression treatments for those living with HIV are the cornerstones of the effort. Both Gudis and Winheim said another result of effective treatments for HIV has been that it’s not in the spotlight as much as it was years ago.

“We have to start talking about HIV to stop it, and one of the first things that everyone can do is know your status,” Gudis said.

EPIC is getting ready to open a new sexual health center on 49th St. S. in St. Petersburg. Winheim said it’s an area of the city with high numbers of cases. She said more help is on the way.

“The government is flooding this area with money so that we can create new and innovative programs so that we can do what we haven’t been able to do, and we haven’t been able to get the rates down,” said Winheim.

Sunday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day. Gudis said in addition to the free tests always provided at Metro Inclusive Health offices, they’ll also be offering tests at St. Pete Pride events this weekend. 

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