HIV Prevalence Among Blacks in South Florida Still Disproportionately High, Report Says
Although there has been progress in recent years, blacks in south Florida are more than three times as likely to be HIV-positive than whites in the region, according to a report from the Florida Department of Health, the Miami Herald reports (Goldstein, Miami Herald, 9/7). The report, titled "Silence is Death: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS in Florida's Black Communities," looks at 20 counties in the state with at least 600 reported HIV/AIDS cases ("Silence is Death: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS in Florida's Black Communities," 9/5). HIV prevalence is six times as high among blacks as whites in Florida, down from about 11 times as high in 1999, Spencer Lieb, a senior state epidemiologist who co-authored the report, said. In Miami-Dade County, 2.3% of blacks are HIV-positive, compared with 0.7% of whites and 0.6% of Latinos, the report says. In Broward County, the figures are 1.7%, 0.5% and 0.5%, respectively (Miami Herald, 9/7). "It is unacceptable that for 15 years in a row, HIV/AIDS has been the leading cause of death among black Floridians aged 25 to 44 years," state health department Secretary M. Rony Francois said, adding, "It is time for us to mobilize communities and all those who have a stake in the epidemic to find innovative ways to reduce the associated morbidity and mortality." The report makes recommendations for fighting HIV/AIDS among blacks in Florida -- including raising awareness about the disease among blacks, promoting HIV testing, increasing access to HIV prevention and care, encouraging communities and local governments to increase their response to HIV/AIDS among blacks and initiating development of a plan to address the epidemic (FDOH release, 9/5). The Miami-Dade County Health Department has launched new efforts targeting black men who have sex with men alongside current programs targeting the broader black community in the county, Evelyn Ullah, who runs the department's HIV/AIDS program, said. In addition, the World AIDS Day committee in Broward County plans to hold World AIDS Day events this year in a predominantly black neighborhood that is home to the county's highest number of new HIV cases, according to Jean Starkey, who chairs the committee (Miami Herald, 9/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.