A recent data compiled by Florida Health has ranked the state of Florida has having the highest number of new HIV infections across the United States.
In 2014, a total of 6,147 people were diagnosed with HIV in Florida. Fifteen of the people who diagnosed were younger than 13 years, while eighty percent of adult cases were males, according to Opposing Views.
Miami-Dade and Broward counties had the highest number of new cases, 1,411 and 993 respectively.
During the same period in the state, more than 2,600 AIDS cases were diagnosed.
The state was also ranked number one in new HIV cases in 2013, with 5,377 infections reported. California came second during the same period of ranking with 5,334, Texas third with 4,854, New York fourth with 3,803, and Georgia fifth with 3,020 new HIV infections.
The amount of new HIV infections in Florida 2015 is estimated to be over 6,000, which is ranked as the highest since 2002, according to the Miami Herald, per Opposing Views. In the past four years, Florida has reduced personnel in the Department of Health, cutting down the size of county health departments.
Questions are now being raised whether Gov. Rick Scott and the state’s top health officer, Dr. John Armstrong decision to cut healthcare funding has contributed to the poor state of Florida in terms of health due to the fact that some others have experienced a decline in HIV infections in the last couple of years while that of Florida have been on the rise.
Dr. Armstrong said the state is spending $34 million on HIV and AIDS prevention in 2015, thanks to a federal grant.
“Staff reductions did not impact the surveillance, education, prevention, counselling, testing, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS patients,” Armstrong said in a statement to the Miami Herald.
However, there are critics who feel Armstrong’s focus should be on HIV and AIDS prevention in 2015, instead of focusing so much on childhood obesity.
“Without leadership at the head of the agency speaking about this, it creates a hurdle,” David Poole, director of legislative affairs for the AIDS Health Care Foundation, said.
Poole who worked at the Department of Health’s HIV program for 12 years is of the view that staff reductions have affected the growing rate of infections in the state.
In Armstrong’s first year after being appointed to be Florida’s surgeon general in 2012 by Scott, the state recorded 4,512 new cases of HIV infections. Since that time, the number has continued to be on the rise, placing Florida as the state with the most new infections per year.
“It’s indicative of the neglect of this administration across the board in social services,” Democratic State Sen. Oscar Braynon said. “We have a rise in AIDS and we have a reduction in public health spending. We’re now cutting just to be cutting.”
Armstrong is up for confirmation by the state Senate next week, and the Health Policy Committee is reportedly critical of him.
“We’ve seen a reduction in services provided by county health departments,” Republican State Sen. Don Gaetz said. “Health conditions exacerbate and folks wind up in emergency rooms. That’s a cycle that doesn’t end well for patients or taxpayers.”