Turning Point of Central Florida Inc. has been providing mental health and substance abuse services to clients living with HIV/AIDS in Central Florida for over 15 years. This is a priority population in that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is monumental in Florida. Florida has been the # 1 area for identifying new HIV cases. Florida accounted for about 11% of new infections in the nation in 2015. HIV clients are high-risk for substance use and abuse; other clients where diagnosed HIV due to their at-risk behaviors while using in addition to needle exchange.
Newly diagnosed individuals so frequently react to the diagnosis of the HIV/AIDS and resort to use and abuse of substances, isolate and live in fear of shame and stigmas. Many never share their diagnosis with family members and live in a world of fear suppressing their emotions.
About HIV and AIDS, substance abuse plays a significant factor in infection and disease progression. Although HIV/AIDS can affect anyone, the risk of infection is significantly higher in patients suffering from substance abuse, whether the risk is of direct exposure through needles or increased likelihood of high risk behavior due to loss of judgment. Substance abuse is of primary concern to HIV/AIDS by promoting actions which increase the initial risk of infection. Furthermore, some abused substances can also influence disease progression and interfere with the effectiveness of treatment.
Having a serious illness, like HIV, can be significant source of major stress. The medications and side-effects in of themselves are physically and emotionally challenging. Frequently, those living with HIV challenges experience a sense being damaged and feel they can never experience a healthy relationship again; this, of course, complicates existing mental health conditions. HIV, and some opportunistic infections, can also affect your nervous system and can lead to changes in your behavior.
Our mental health counselors focus on helping the client to re-learn how to live their life to the fullest and meet the multiple complications of this disease. One of the most common mental health conditions that people living with HIV face is depression. Many clients are prone to mask their depressed moods with substances, others withdraw and internalize their stressors.
Our counselors’ primary goal is to assure that the clients are successfully adhering to their care plan and complying with medical appointments and maintaining their schedule of medications. With the medication protocol and the counseling regimen HIV clients can become undetectable and resume a lifestyle which allows them to return to the community as productive members of our Central Florida area.