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Florida's HIV/AIDS chief resigns

@MichaelAuslen

The head of the Florida Department of Health's HIV/AIDS section is stepping down.

Marlene LaLota, who has been with DOH for more than 25 years resigned on July 26 "to pursue new challenges," according to a letter obtained by the Times/Herald.

"I will always treasure the amazing HIV staff here and in the field," she wrote. "I feel so privileged to have served Floridians living with or at risk for HIV and I believe that I have made a difference in their lives."

LaLota's resignation comes on the heels of controversy regarding the state's HIV numbers. After reporting a staggering number of new HIV infections for several years, DOH altered the data, decreasing the number of cases in 2014 from 6,147 to 4,613.

Under congressional pressure and following reporting by the Times/Herald about the HIV data, DOH in May released more details about its process for removing duplicate cases from the data and said the altered numbers reflected a more accurate count.

South Florida remains one of the epicenters of the disease in the United States.

LaLota's last day in the office is Sept. 1, and she will be on state payroll through Dec. 2, according to her resignation letter.

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