TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - In his State of the Union address, President Trump made it clear that he wants the government to invest in the fight against the country's HIV epidemic and possibly stop it altogether within the next 10 years.
The bold initiative would begin with the 48 counties where most HIV transmissions occur. Seven of those counties are in Florida: Pinellas, Hillsborough, Orange, Duval, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward.
According to the CDC, about 1.2 million people are estimated to be living with HIV in the United States. In Florida, the state department of health estimates 135,200 have the virus.
"People don't know they're infected until it's too late," said Dr. Jamie Morano, medical director of disease control for the department of health in Hillsborough County.
Morano said about 12,000 people have HIV within the Tampa metropolitan area. It may be a high number, but Morano said other areas, like Miami-Dade County, have about 19,000 reported cases.
"More people living in concentrated areas of population do have a higher risk of HIV acquisition just because the chances of interacting with HIV are higher," said Morano.
The White House's plan to tackle the epidemic is outlined in a four-pronged approach divided into four categories: diagnosing, treating, protecting, and responding to the epidemic in a customized approach for each specific location.
"Our reaction is very positive," Morano said. "We want to support the initiative as best we can."
Although there's no magic solution, and existing treatments are tried and true methods, medical experts say education can make a lasting impact.
According to Morano, young people are at the highest risk. She said the newest HIV infections in Florida, approximately 30 percent, are found in people between the ages of 20-29.
"These young people are not getting the information they need," said Morano.
But there are a plethora of resources available to anyone who wants to get tested or treated.
Hillsborough County residents can visit http://hillsborough.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/clinical-nutrition-services/hiv-healthcare/index.html for more information.
There are a number of free testing sites in Pinellas County operating year-round. A list of those sites may be viewed at http://pinellas.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/infectious-disease-services/std/_documents/hiv-test-sites.pdf.
The CDC recommends adolescents and adults age 13- 64 get tested.