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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

FLORIDA: Duval Reaches out to Blacks over AIDS


Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) (02.06.10) - Friday,

Jacksonville-area health officials observed National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day by hosting numerous testing and education events across the First Coast. Though the outreach is officially held each year on Feb. 7, local organizers did not want to compete against the Super Bowl on Sunday so events were scheduled over the course of three days ending Saturday.

Nationally, African Americans represent 13 percent of the population but account for 49 percent of diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases. In Duval County, state Department of Health data show the disparity is greater - 63 percent of those diagnosed with AIDS are black.

Initiatives like the awareness day are important because they encourage people to get tested who otherwise might not, said Max Wilson, the region's AIDS prevention coordinator for the state health department. "It really mobilizes the entire population," he said.

Lolita Hill, director of HIV outreach at River Region Human Services, has been an AIDS educator for 21 years. Inside a drawer at the bottom of her desk, she keeps a thick stack of funeral programs representing northeast Florida friends who have died from AIDS. Too many of them were African-American, she said.

At River Region's office just west of downtown, people trickled in Friday for rapid HIV testing. To ease the wait for results, the agency provided a party-like atmosphere with food and music. Of the 100 or so people Hill expected to test, two or three results would likely come back positive, she said.


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