A recent article from the Miami New Times puts the average rate of HIV infection in Miami at 4 times the national average, with 27,969 Miamians with HIV/AIDS in 2017. Luckily, laboratory professionals in Florida are uniquely equipped to deal with this disproportionate epidemic, due to a Florida Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel requirement that requires all those maintaining a Florida histology license to take an AIDS focused course.
Florida is one of the few states that requires a state license to practice Histotechnology. Similar to the ASCP national certification, Florida techs must complete continuing education to renew their license. The ASCP HT certification simply requires points in safety and histology, with all remaining points up to the tech to choose, however Florida requires a couple of unique requirements not found in the HT/HTL renewal, one of which is a course on HIV/AIDS.
As the virus has become better understood over time, and treatments developed, the life expectancy for someone living with HIV/AIDS has increased to 70 years of age. Combine that with an increase in sexual activity in retirement communities, and you have a never before seen HIV/AIDS population segment- older adults, something Florida is no stranger to.
As these older AIDS patients suffer from not only AIDS related symptoms, but also other health conditions related to age, laboratorians in Florida have increased exposure to HIV/AIDS positive specimens. Knowledge of proper safety protocol is a must, as is understanding how the virus is transmitted, the Florida laws regulating HIV/AIDS testing, and the social stigma for its patients.
If you are interested in learning more about HIV/AIDS in the laboratory, check out NSH’s new webinar available on learn.nsh.org, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: A Course for the Laboratorian. This course is part of NSH’s webinar series, the Florida Mandatory Education Package, which also includes a course on medical errors and one on Florida laws to fulfill the other 3 credit requirements specific to Florida licensure.