ACT UP/Miami Calls for Gay and Tourism Boycott of Florida, Says Officials in ‘State of Denial’ Over AIDS
ACT UP/Miami has called for a gay and tourism boycott of Florida, saying that officials are in a "state of denial" over the state's HIV/AIDS crisis, the Miami Herald reports. Florida has the third-highest AIDS rate in the country. However, state officials recently cut $10 million from HIV/AIDS programs, including the Medicaid Project AIDS Care waiver program, which provided home health assistance for people with the disease. One solution activists see to the funding problem is to use tourism dollars to provide funding for HIV/AIDS programs, particularly in the gay community. "Dade and Broward counties welcome gay tourists' dollars, but Florida is not spending money on the necessary [HIV/AIDS] prevention," Gregg Scott, president of Broward County's People With AIDS Coalition, said, adding, "HIV is going to become our greatest export." Gay and lesbian travelers account for about $570 million of Broward County's $25 billion travel industry, the Herald reports. Tim McCarron, a Miami-based artist and member of ACT UP, said gay and lesbian tourists need to "demand" that Florida use tourism dollars to supplement HIV/AIDS programs. "They're coming to a community that's gay friendly, where they can feel a little better about themselves and (be more) public about their sexuality. They're rejoicing. They don't want to think about AIDS or discrimination. But instead of lining the pockets of bar hotel club owners ... shouldn't gays look out for other gays that are sick?" he asked. McCarron added that gay travelers should be particularly concerned about the area's AIDS rate because many engage in sexual relationships while on vacation and do not practice safe sex. "I'm sure their argument is, 'It's your town, your city, your state, and not our responsibility.' But it is their responsibility," he said (Buckley, Miami Herald, 7/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.