Palm Beach Post Examines HIV/AIDS In Florida

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The Palm Beach Post on Sunday examined HIV/AIDS in Florida, which has thethird-highest caseload nationwide. More than 105,000 people have been diagnosedwith AIDS since the start of the epidemic in the U.S.,and the rate of HIV/AIDS among children in the state is second only to New York, according tothe Post. In addition, about 80% of pediatric HIV/AIDS cases occuramong black children. Palm Beachand St. Lucie counties have recorded the highest HIV/AIDS rates among blackresidents statewide, the Post reports. Black residents, who makeup 15% of Palm Beachcounty's population, comprise 65% of people living with HIV/AIDS in the area.

Leaders in Floridahave not responded to HIV/AIDS as a sexually transmitted epidemic, Palm BeachCounty Health Director Jean Malecki said, adding that sex education programs inthe state do not provide students with information about how to prevent HIV. Inaddition, the federal government has not supported local prevention efforts in Florida and during the past two years has reducedHIV/AIDS funding for Palm BeachCounty and the TreasureCoast,according to Malecki.

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Although religious leaders in the state have not spoken out about the disease,an exception has been Bishop Lewis White, who has run HIV/AIDS education, prevention and care programs in the county,Malecki said. "Other pastors have said I'm promoting sex when I hand outcondoms," White said, adding, "I'm sorry to tell them that is nottrue. People are having sex with or without condoms. I'm promoting life. I'mhere for a purpose: not to judge you on who you have sex with, but to judge howcareful you are when you have sex." According to White, poverty,unemployment and homelessness are contributing to the spread of HIV incommunities where conditions have deteriorated during the past few years(Barton, Palm Beach Post, 11/25).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.

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