This article is part of the Proud U series, a component of U=U & U, Pride Media’s year-long initiative to get the word out about HIV prevention, treatment, and testing, especially the groundbreaking news that people living with HIV who have undetectable viral loads can no longer transmit HIV.
The Miami area currently has one of the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses in the country and over 26,000 people are living with HIV, according to AIDSVu. However, they are many organizations and advocates working hard to bring down those numbers. Whether you’re HIV-positive or unsure of your status, this informative guide will help you find vital resources in the greater Miami area that can help get you and keep you safe, happy, and healthy.
If you are poz, there are local organizations that will immediately link you to care and get you on treatment, while offering financial assistance for meds and other immediate needs.
Forty-six-year-old activist Maria Mejia works with multiple organizations as an international human rights. She also proudly serves as a global ambassador for The Well Project, a non-profit whose mission is to change the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through a unique and comprehensive focus on women and girls.
“I have learned that being of service to others gives me purpose and I thrive on my mission and passion," says the Miami native.
Once a person living with HIV receives treatment, most will achieve viral suppression, also known as being undetectable. When a person is undetectable, it becomes impossible to transmit the virus to a sexual partner — even without the use of condoms. Also known as U=U, the term is now a globally accepted scientific consensus based on years of extensive research.
(And if you’re HIV-negative, it’s time to think about real prevention. PrEP, currently in the form of a daily pill, when taken properly makes it virtually impossible to contract HIV).
Here are some nifty resources in Miami you should check out:
For over 30 years, AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been committed to providing cutting-edge treatment and advocacy to its patients, regardless of one’s ability to pay. Serving over 1 million people worldwide, AHF has a total of four centers in Miami alone.
AHF centers and clinics offer advanced medical care for people living with HIV, including easy access to specialists, the latest medications, and other vital services necessary in order for poz people to live happy healthy lives. Its staff is knowledgeable on up-to-the-minute developments in HIV medical care is especially skilled at guiding folks who are newly diagnosed. AHF also uses innovative tools like mobile services and useful apps to help clients stay healthy despite busy schedules. A recent survey of over 6,000 AHF clients showed a 97 percent average overall rating of its staff and services. They also offer family planning and prenatal care for women living with HIV.
The Well Project is a non-profit with a mission to change the course of the HIV and AIDS pandemic through a comprehensive focus on women and girls. Over the past decade, The Well Project has established itself as the premier online resource on women and HIV, both nationally and globally, directly reaching more than one million users annually. Though it is an online resource, The Well Project can connect you to testing, treatment, counseling, and other support services in your area. A Miami-based global ambassador for The Well Project, Maria Mejia, reminds activists that it is imperative to include women and girls in the overall conversation about HIV, something the Well Project does very well.
Outspoken HIV activist Maria Mejia (bottom left) poses with some of the other women living with HIV who are part of The Well Project.
“I am tired of women being excluded in every way as far as HIV!” wrote Mejia on The Well Project’s blog A Girl Like Me, adding “I know my brothers and sisters are high- risk, but how can you really change the world’s mind that this continues to be a gay man’s disease, when we all know this is a human condition that affects us all? We need to be included in panels! All women! Black, Latinx, white! Women, period!”
Prevention305 is a grassroots, Latinx community-based nonprofit that gives Miami locals quick and easy access to PrEP. Its mission to end the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV stigma by expanding access to PrEP and bring knowledge and empowerment to those who are most vulnerable to HIV is being successfully accomplished by using innovative, out-of-the-box tactics. If you visit the website, you can request info and get an appointment for HIV testing within 48 hours. If you're positive, you get directed to treatment; if you're negative, you get referred for a prescription of PrEP.
“Everyone is on their phones,” says program director Marco Torrealba. “No one wants to have a flyer in their pocket…. So we developed this website where we put this form and we collect information. We refer clients from the dating apps to the website, or from social media to the website…. People read the information there [and] within 24 to 48 hours we have an appointment set up for them, with dates, with times, with the documents they have to bring in order to get PrEP in Miami.”
Marco Torrealba, Prevention 305's program director
This organization is made up of people living with HIV, caregivers, Ryan White Program service providers, government representatives, and other community members. Their vision is to eliminate disparities and improve health outcomes for all people living with or at risk for HIV. In addition to information and application links for Ryan White medical and drug-cost assistance programs, there are a ton of helpful links and referrals to other vital HIV resources, such as where to get free testing, PrEP, housing, mental health services, and substance abuse recovery.
Test Miami offers some very useful educational and community services in addition to testing and prevention services. In addition to their handy HIV 101 video that covers HIV basics, Test Miami has in-person educational sessions aimed at folks who are at a higher risk of becoming poz or who are already living with HIV but are in need of resources and support. And of course, as their name strongly suggests, they do offer free preventative education and STI testing, including screening s for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis via their mobile testing unit.
University of Miami Adolescent Counseling & Testing Services
This community health center is a great place for teens and young adults to get HIV and other STI screenings, especially if it’s their first time doing so. The warm and caring and informative staff has helped thousands of young people through the process of HIV testing and aftercare. The center is located at the University of Miami and its services are open to all. It offers free HIV and STD testing services for adolescents and young adults, including pre- and post-test counseling.
“The staff is very friendly and make you feel comfortable during the pre-test as well as the post-test,” wrote one young client in a Google review. “Everything is kept confidential so don’t be afraid to get tested!” Another wrote that the incredible staff will “make you feel so comfortable when getting tested and more importantly make many resources available to you.”
The University of Miami Adolescent Counseling & Testing Services is open 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Thursday, and is located at 1580 Northwest 10th Avenue, 2nd Floor Batchelor Children’s Research Institute, Miami, FL 33136.
For more info call 305-243-2174 (no website).
Every April, thousands gather to decrease stigma and increase visibility and support services for people living with or affected by HIV in South Florida. In 2020, AIDS Walk Miami returns to SoundScape Park and the New World Center in Miami Beach. Funds raised will provide critical help to the more than 17,000 individuals who depend daily on these essential services, including primary medical and dental care, HIV and STI testing, case management, behavioral health counseling, prevention education, housing assistance, food pantry, and nutritional assistance.
Find out more about U=U, and what that means for you, at our U=U&U channel.