On Friday, three Democrats representing Central Florida in Congress–U.S. Reps. Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto–announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is sending more than $2.1 million to Orange County to help individuals and families obtain HIV/AIDS access.
The monies come from a grant through HHS’s HIV Emergency Relief Program which directs “financial assistance to metropolitan areas that have been most severely affected by the HIV epidemic.”
“I’m pleased to announce this federal grant for Orange County that will enhance ongoing efforts in central Florida to combat HIV/AIDS,” said Murphy. “These federal dollars will help prevent new infections and improve quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS. I will keep working to secure federal funding that promotes stronger and healthier communities.”
“Last year I held an HIV/AIDS roundtable with local and national experts who brought a powerful message: with the proper funding, testing, and medication, we can completely manage and prevent new transmissions of HIV in America. HIV is not the frightening diagnosis that it was thirty years ago. In fact, revolutionary treatments have given hope and a new lease on life to millions of people,” said Demings. “This crucial new funding will help Central Florida work to #EndTheStigma and ensure that every member of our community has the chance to live the same full and rich life as anyone else. I am excited to continue working with local advocates and community organizations to ensure access to care for everyone.”
“I am extremely proud to have worked with Congresswoman Murphy and Congresswoman Demings to secure funding to help Central Floridians fighting HIV/AIDS,” said Soto. “This funding will be instrumental in providing necessary medical care and support services for those who need it most, like our friends in the LGBTQ+ community.”
“In 2017, the last year for which data is available, there were about 10,000 individuals in Orange County living with HIV or AIDS. According to reports, in 2017, the Orlando region ranked second among all major metropolitan areas in the country in new HIV cases,” the three representatives’ offices noted. “Grant funding can be used by the county to provide outpatient and ambulatory health services, financial assistance to help patients purchase medicine and access care, home health care, mental health and substance abuse services, outreach services, medical transportation, and linguistic services.”
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