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We believe no individual should be limited in their potential by HIV. Since 1988, the University of Florida Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Service (UF CARES) has been a leader in providing innovative care and quality services in the Jacksonville community. UF CARES is the only comprehensive pediatric and adult family-focused HIV and AIDS program in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. Our team is dedicated to providing the latest in clinical, educational, research and support services to improve your quality of life and decrease HIV transmissions through education, preventive health and specialized services.

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HIV/AIDS: Virus versus condition

What is HIV? The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) harms your immune system by destroying a type of white blood cell that helps your body fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections.

What is AIDS? Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a condition that happens as a result of the virus. AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection that occurs when the virus has badly damaged your immune system.

HIV/AIDS: What you need to know

  • Sometimes there are no symptoms in the early stages, and some people don't feel sick. The only way to know if you have HIV is to be tested.
  • HIV is most often spread through unprotected sex with an infected person. The virus can also be transmitted by sharing drug needles, through contact with blood or from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
  • The first signs of HIV infection may be flu-like symptoms, which may fluctuate over two to four weeks. This might include fever, rash, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, moth ulcers and swollen lymph nodes.
  • If the infection is not treated, the virus will likely weaken your body's immune system to the point where it progresses to AIDS.

HIV/AIDS: Treatment

With advances in treatments, HIV can be controlled and the effects it has on your immune system can be slowed. As with many infections, early detection provides better treatment options. Our experts can help you manage your illness with a combination of medications referred to as antiretroviral therapy or ART. These medications can help strengthen your immune system and also lower the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Why choose UF Health Jacksonville?

UF CARES offers the only comprehensive pediatric and family-centered medical home model in Northeast Florida for HIV-infected individuals. Our focus is on your needs.

  • The UF CARES center is a one-stop program where patients receive the majority of services in a single, coordinated visit managed through a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach.
  • Our comprehensive team includes adult and pediatric infectious disease physicians, advanced registered nurse practitioners, psychologists, nutritionists, educators, medical case managers and support staff.
  • In addition to basic medical care, the center provides medical case management, pharmacy services, health education, nutrition and mental health counseling.

HIV/AIDS: Care services we provide

  • Assistance with transportation
  • Access to pediatric, adolescent and adult clinical trials and research studies
  • Community partnerships for substance abuse and mental health services
  • Family planning, perinatal visits and specialty gynecological care
  • Health education and training
  • HIV/hepatitis C coinfection clinic
  • HIV homeless services and linkage to care
  • HIV testing and counseling
  • Legal aid services
  • Medical case management
  • Nutrition evaluation and education
  • Primary and specialty care
  • Psychological evaluations and referral to mental health services
  • Psychiatric services
  • Referrals for dental care and other services

UF CARES accepts most commercial insurance plans and many PPO plans.

Support groups for people living with HIV

UF CARES provides monthly support groups for adult and adolescent HIV-infected patients facilitated by our psychologist and education coordinator.

  • Adult Support Group – meets the third Wednesday of each month, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Adolescent Support Group – meets the fourth Wednesday of each month, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

HIV/AIDS: Pregnancy

The Targeted Outreach for Pregnant Women Act (TOPWA) is a program designed to reach high-risk pregnant women or HIV-infected pregnant women who are not receiving services to prevent transmission of the HIV virus to infants. The program provides services to high-risk pregnant women through linkage and referrals. The goal of the TOPWA program is to prevent women infected with HIV from infecting their babies. All women of childbearing age are eligible for the program, even those without documented citizenship.

Services include:

  • Free pregnancy and HIV testing
  • Help getting substance abuse treatment
  • Help getting family planning services
  • Education and support
  • Assist with Medicaid enrollment
  • Free bus passes
  • Help with HIV medications and proper medical care

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News and Patient Stories: HIV/AIDS

More HIV/AIDS stories