South Florida HIV/AIDS Prevention Program for Seniors Shifts Focus to Minorities
The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel yesterday profiled South Florida's Senior HIV Intervention Project, one of the first HIV/AIDS education programs nationwide to specifically target people ages 50 and older. The project, which is funded by the Florida Department of Health, was started in 1997 after the Florida Department of Elder Affairs determined that senior citizens were contracting HIV through sexual contact. Although Florida health officials once viewed the HIV/AIDS problem among seniors as a "white, middle-class phenomenon," the Sun-Sentinel reports that SHIP is now beginning to focus on Hispanic and black seniors, the "fastest-growing segment" of HIV-positive senior citizens in South Florida. In 1986, minorities represented less than 50% of all HIV/AIDS cases among South Florida seniors. However, the Florida Department of Health reports that in 2001, approximately 85% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses among people over age 65 in Florida's Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties occurred among Hispanics and blacks. Whereas SHIP previously had no bilingual counselors, the program now employs counselors who speak Spanish, as well as one counselor who speaks Creole. Program counselors present workshops, distribute brochures and provide free condoms at local retirement communities, and the group is also attempting to reach black seniors through churches (Lade, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 10/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.