Palm Beach Post Examines HIV/AIDS Issues in Palm Beach County, Fla.
The Palm Beach Post on Sunday published a package of stories and statistics on HIV/AIDS in Palm Beach County, Fla. The following is a summary of the stories.
- "Why is HIV Continuing To Spread? Haitian culture poses challenges to treating, preventing disease": The West Palm Beach and Boca Raton area had the fifth highest AIDS case rate of any county in the nation in 2002, with an estimated 48.6 AIDS cases per 100,000 people. A "flow" of immigrants from the Caribbean -- where the HIV/AIDS prevalence is second highest in the world after Africa -- has contributed to the rise in the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Palm Beach County, according to Treasure Coast Health Council Planner Karen Dodge, the Post reports (Barton, Palm Beach Post, 11/14).
- "ZIP CODES 33401, 33404, 33407: Progress mired in phobias, stigmas": About 33% of the estimated 10,000 HIV-positive people in Palm Beach County do not know they have the virus, according to Dodge. Health advocates in the county are "increasingly concerned" about men who have unprotected sex with men without telling their female partners, with whom they also have unprotected sex, according to the Post. This "phenomenon" is one reason why HIV incidence is highest among black women and young women in the area, the Post reports (Barton , Palm Beach Post, 11/14).
- "AIDS Haunts Immigrant Life": Immigrants in Palm Beach County often are "ignored" and "unaware" of HIV, according to AIDS advocate Sister Rachel Sena, the Post reports. The Comprehensive AIDS Program in Palm Springs, Fla., provides funding for prescription drugs for HIV-positive people, but many Central American immigrants wait too long before beginning treatment, Winston Maldonado, a caseworker at CAP, said. "We don't go to the doctor unless we're dying," Maldonado said, adding, "That's part of the culture" (Barton , Palm Beach Post, 11/14).
- "Two Men Share Lives Defined by Secrecy, Loss and Sickness": The Post profiles two unnamed gay men who both are HIV-positive and live in a Delray Beach, Fla., retirement community together. One man said that public discourse on HIV/AIDS is becoming more "closed," and the other man said he is "not sure why because it's not just a gay disease anymore" (Barton , Palm Beach Post, 11/14).
- "Vodou Priestess Called To Heal": Vodou, a religious healing faith practiced "to some extent" by a majority of Haitians, is being used by some immigrants in Palm Beach County in an attempt to treat HIV/AIDS, the Post reports. "They don't really have AIDS," Jean Pierre, a Vodou mambo -- or priestess -- said of HIV-positive people, adding, "Sometimes, somebody who might be jealous of them put a zombie on them. The zombie goes in their body, and it changes the person's system. It eats at them and turns the blood to make it look like they have it." However, Jean Pierre said that Vodou can help people who are HIV-positive live longer lives, according to the Post (Louima, Palm Beach Post, 11/14).
- "Epidemic Grips Belle Glade, City Under a Microscope": The Post profiles how doctors' calls to CDC in 1981 about an HIV/AIDS outbreak in Belle Glade, Fla., received "little attention" until 1985, when CDC studied the town to determine if mosquitoes carried the disease. The CDC closed its research center in Belle Glade in 1996 after residents complained they were being treated like "guinea pigs," according to the Post. However, HIV/AIDS continues to "flourish" in the area, the Post reports (Barton , Palm Beach Post, 11/14).