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Duval health officials encourage individuals to know their HIV status

9:34 PM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are new concerns about HIV and AIDS on the First Coast. Police arrested Taveres Newsome this week. He is accused of infecting his sexual partners with HIV.

At least two women say they now have the virus after sleeping with Newsome. First for you, there is growing concern and a push by the Duval County Health Department for people to get tested.

There were more cases of HIV and AIDS in Duval County in 2012 than there were in 2011. It's a sobering statistic that health officials say is a problem. You might know someone living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus or you might be living with it.

Across Florida, the number of reported HIV cases in the past year are down. But in Duval County from January to November 2012, there were 354 reported cases of HIV. That's up from 299 in the same span in 2011.

RELATED: How teens are being educated on the subject of sex education as the HIV rate in Duval County increases

"It's probably about an 18 percent increase," said Duval County Health Department Minority AIDS Coordinator Tabitha Robinson.

FCN asked the Duval County Health Department why that was the case.

"I think a lot of it, people feel like it doesn't affect them," Robinson explained. "'I don't feel a need to worry about them. I don't feel sick.'"

But it does affect the First Coast. According to police, Newsome is charged with criminal transmission of HIV. Diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2008, police said Newsome didn't tell women he was having sex with about his HIV positive status.

"Well, I feel like everybody has choices and everybody's not always honest," Robinson said.

Robinson said prevention, education and knowing your HIV status is key. So is living a healthy HIV positive life.

"We encourage people to first of all know what your status is," Robinson said. "We offer free testing around Duval County. We have rapid testing now."

Robinson said this particular incident could be a learning point for others.

"HIV is in existence and it is real," Robinson emphasized. "We can't wait until it comes and knocks on our door."

First Coast News

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