Florida Panel Calls for Cooperative Effort to Battle AIDS in Minority Communities
Church leaders, educators, community groups and health officials on Thursday called for a cooperative effort to battle the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic among minorities in Orange County, Fla., the Orlando Sentinel reports. All parties at the meeting, one of seven to be sponsored by the Florida Department of Health throughout the state, agreed that "until the subject permeates minority communities from all directions, HIV and AIDS will continue to grow among African Americans and Hispanics." Hispanics and African Americans account for 66% of the county's 1,473 known HIV infections and half of the 4,426 reported AIDS cases. Participants in the forum said that "myths and misinformation [about HIV/AIDS] abound" in their communities, and added that many people "fail to discuss the topic at all." Rev. Frank Massey of Winter Garden, Fla., said, "We have to get those in authority at our churches involved, we just have to. We don't like to talk about sex in religious organizations, but we have to do it or else we'll just see (HIV) spread and spread." Mary Lou Burdette of Seniors First, a community group offering meal services, said, "People have become immune to the danger" of HIV. The groups gave several suggestions for "attacking" the spread of HIV among minorities, including targeting prevention messages at "specific age groups" and creating posters and pamphlets to dispel myths surrounding the disease. They also are "demand[ing]" greater involvement from politicians (Suriano, Orlando Sentinel, 3/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.