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Study reveals high HIV/AIDS rate for men in Florida

By Staff | Sep 2, 2009

One in every 123 men in Florida is living with HIV or AIDS, according to a study released Tuesday by the Florida Department of Health.
The study, called “Man Up: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS Among Florida’s Men,” details a frightening picture of the disease that knows no boundaries in regard to wealth, race or sexuality.
The report was compiled between 1999 and 2008, focusing on people ages 13 and older who are living with AIDS.
Miami-Dade County ranks number one in black and Hispanic men. One in every 29 black men and one in every 82 Hispanic men are infected with the disease.
Monroe County ranked number one for the number of white men as one in every 55 are infected.
Lee County ranks number eight in the state for black men as one in every 52 are HIV positive. Hispanic men rank 29th, with one in every 299 infected.
For white men, Lee County ranks 16th out of the 52 counties in Florida as one in every 372 are infected with HIV or AIDS.
Lee County caseworker Komona McGriff said she feels AIDS awareness has dipped in recent years.
McGriff, who has been a caseworker for the county for the last seven years, said the number of cases she deals with has remained steady.
“There’s still a lot of ignorance out there (regarding AIDS or HIV),” she said. “I think people have gotten lackadaisical, mainly because it’s not in your face like it used to be.”
The Lee County Health Department has a regular schedule of free outreach, testing and educational programs for not only HIV and AIDS, but hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The county offers the services every first and third Tuesday of the month at St. John the Apostle Metropolitan Church on McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers.
The county is merely one of many community outreach programs that offer free testing.
The Fort Myers-based Island Coast AIDS Network, established in 1987, was formed to help stop the spread of the disease.
According to the nonprofit group, Florida ranks third among the states with the largest population of people living with AIDS, coming in behind only California and New York.
Like the Lee County Health Department, caseworkers at Island Coast AIDS Network said the number of their cases have remained steady over the last few years.
The nonprofit group also offers free HIV testing at its Fort Myers office from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday-Sunday.
All tests are confidential.
For more information, contact the Lee County Health Department at 656-2509, or contact the Island Coast AIDS Network at 337-2391.