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Author Topic: AIDS report stirs black community  (Read 2527 times)

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Offline J.R.E.

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AIDS report stirs black community
« on: September 10, 2006, 06:18:15 PM »

I found this report quite disturbing. Manatee county is the next county, just south of where I live in Florida:


AIDS report stirs black community
Herald Staff Writer
Silence is Death: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS in Florida's Black Communities
MANATEE - One out of every 70 non-Hispanic blacks in Manatee County has HIV/AIDS, according to a new state report.

And since AIDS tracking began in the early 1980s to 2005, more than 137,000 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported in Florida and 55,000 people have died from the infectious, but preventable, disease, the Department of Health report says.

That's more people than the current population of Bradenton, which topped 53,000 in the 2005 Census update.

And although blacks account for only 14 percent of Florida's population, they now represent 51 percent of all Floridians living with HIV/AIDS, the "Silence is Death" report says.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic among blacks is a crisis that cannot and must not be ignored, said DOH Secretary Dr. M. Rony Franηois.

"It is unacceptable that for 15 years in a row, HIV/AIDS has been the leading cause of death among black Floridians aged 25-44 years," Franηois said. "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 state report also quotes author James Baldwin: "You cannot fix what you do not face."

Manatee County's wake-up call came Wednesday morning, when Dr. Gladys Branic of the local health department met with elected officials and community leaders, including Theodore (Ted) Jenkins, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, the Rev. Lawrence Livingston of Eternity Chapel and the Rev. Dexter McDonald of Community Outreach Church.

Branic hopes Manatee's black leaders take the cause to heart to raise awareness among their congregations.

"If you look at all Florida counties, Manatee is seventh in black HIV/AIDS," Branic said. "Those high numbers are not unexpected. We expected our numbers to rise because testing of blacks has increased. But we also know there are a large number of individuals who are positive but who are still unaware because they have not been tested."

Two years ago, Branic's health department received $15,000 from the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assess the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Manatee County.

Branic's staff worked with researchers from the University of South Florida and used a proven model - the Rapid Assessment, Response and Evaluation Project, or RARE Project - to try to find the root causes of Manatee's rapidly rising HIV/AIDS numbers.

RARE is the same research model the World Health Organization uses to respond to epidemics.

Manatee's high numbers, Branic said, are a direct result of the health department's stepped-up efforts to encourage people of all ethnic backgrounds to get tested and protect their health and the well-being of others.

But she also knows there are many others who need to be tested, but don't come forward because they think HIV/AIDS can never happen to them.

Of greatest concern, she said, is the rising number of women who are testing positive.

"HIV/AIDS is growing fastest among women of all ages, Branic said, but especially among those over 50. These aren't estimates. These are real numbers."

The report provides statistical proof, Branic said, that blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS given the high rate of infection as compared to their population numbers.

And blacks are not the only ethnic group that has a disproportionately higher rate of infection, Branic said. The infection rate among Hispanics is also on the rise.

Manatee County ranks fifth among Florida's 67 counties in HIV/AIDS cases among Hispanics, the report said. One out of every 298 Hispanics in Manatee County is infected, according to state statistics.

What's saddest of all, said Branic, is the fact that HIV/AIDS is totally preventable through education and practice of sound precautions.

The state report quotes Thomas Liberti, chief of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS of the Florida Department of Health.

"Perhaps the single most important preventive measure is for people to know their own HIV status," Liberti said. "If they are uninfected, this knowledge helps them protect themselves; if they are infected, the information helps them to protect their partners and to seek care and treatment for themselves."

Branic said she is optimistic Manatee's elected and community leaders will accept the challenge.

"This community rallied when Manatee County did not have a treatment center for HIV/AIDS patients," Branic said. "And now we have the Michael Bach Center. I think we can do it again."

Donna Wright, health and social services reporter, can be reached at 745-7049 or at dwright@HeraldToday.com.

Underlying factors that contribute to HIV/AIDS racial/ethnic disparities

• Amount of HIV already in the community.

• Late diagnosis of HIV/AIDS.*

• Access to and acceptance of diagnosis and care.*

• Stigma and denial, including fear of disclosure of HIV-positive status.*

• Discrimination and homophobia, including fear of disclosure of being an injection drug user (IDU) or a man who has sex with men (MSM).*

• Poverty and unemployment.

• Delayed prevention messages (long considered a gay, white male disease).*

• Non-HIV sexually transmitted diseases in the community.*

• HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs, reflecting mistrust of the health care system.*

• Sexual and needle-sharing behaviors.*

• Incarceration.

• Complex factors related to socioeconomic status.

* Indicates factors that HIV/AIDS programs may be able to directly address.


• Increase resources devoted to prevention, care and treatment programs.

• Encourage individuals to get tested for HIV.

• Increase the accessibility of HIV testing (i.e. extend clinic hours, mobile testing units, health fairs, county jails, community events, emergency rooms and walk-in clinics).

• Address issues related to discrimination and homophobia, stigma and denial, HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs and sexual and needle-sharing behaviors.

• Develop effective, targeted interventions for individuals at risk of acquiring or spreading HIV.

• Establish close linkages between HIV/AIDS and substance abuse programs.

• Increase HIV prevention in medical settings within the public and private sector.

• Promote HIV/AIDS media campaigns to keep HIV/AIDS in the minds of the general population, to maintain a climate of acceptability and to create a climate for normalizing HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.

• Increase youth involvement in HIV community planning, decision making and prevention programming.

• Disseminate information on the health benefits of abstinence until marriage, and fidelity thereafter.

• Disseminate information on the health benefits of condoms and other risk-reduction measures.

SOURCE: The Florida Department of Health


Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 20mg of Atorvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Amlodipine Besolate 5mg-- Updated 9/24/2017

Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 9/18/2017,  Viral load remains <40
CD 4 @358 /  CD4 % @ 13

 65 years young.

Offline Dachshund

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2006, 06:24:24 PM »
Sad and sobering statistics that probably represent people of color all over the south. It is nothing short of catastrophic.

« Last Edit: September 10, 2006, 06:37:58 PM by Dachshund »

Offline joyluckclub

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2006, 11:05:28 PM »

Those statistics are frightening.  Just yesterday at my father's 60th birthday, I found out a classmate and fellow church member was diagnosed with full blown aids.  I am no longer part of the church of my youth because of the homophobic messages that were preached.

The "church" women continued to talk about how sick he was and how faithful he was to the choir. Toward the end, his aunt told us she told him "It's because of your lifestyle". 

Again, the church is a huge part of the African American community.  Education and change has to happen in that body before you will see a decrease in the rate of HIV/AIDS.

"Honey, be who you is"  Madea.........

Offline Eldon

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2006, 11:40:42 PM »
Hello Ray,

There needs to be a stronger focus on removing the stigma, education on HIV/AIDS, and most of all prevention.

Have the BEST Day!

Offline Cliff

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2006, 02:09:44 PM »
Thanks for this Ray!  Though I do think they need to look beyond the church.  Everytime something happens, they head straight for the church, as if that's the only place to reach black people.

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2006, 02:20:51 PM »

It's what we have known about for a lot of years and nothing genuinely substantive has been done to really make a difference.

Countries in Africa have proven that committed prevention programs that emphasize condoms will reduce the infection rate.

Yet here in our fine upstanding America with family values and flagwaving no leaders have the balls or the brains or the compassion to say we need real education about HIV and STDs in our schools and condoms widely available and prevention/treatment programs in prisons, (prisons are a profitable growth industry but not for those who are incarcerated), universal clean needle exchange, etc. etc.

We pay more attention to Paris Hilton's hi-jinks than we do to this situation. Or to New Orleans!


Who is going to get up in black churches and dare to tell congregations they are killing their own people through their prejudices about HIV, drugs and sexuality? And use REAL WORDS when saying it!

And who will lead the effort to reach blacks (and Latinos) outside of the church setting?

Cliff, you mentioned that it shouldn't be only in the church community. Any thoughts on how that could be done effectively? Who should be targeted and how?

« Last Edit: September 11, 2006, 02:23:45 PM by Andy Velez »
Andy Velez

Offline bear60

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2006, 02:26:54 PM »
I think heading for the church is one of the best ways to reach the black community because the churches have been responsible for a lot of the procrastination and "silence". With the church an important part of the black community, if the pastors dont take an active role in de stigmatizing HIV and getting the info out there, it stays as it is.......a silent killer.
Bill Clinton talked a lot about the stigma of HIV....welll maybe he should be traveling to these black churches and giving his little talks.
Poz Bear Type in Philadelphia

Offline Cliff

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2006, 07:45:05 AM »

I'd have to give it some thought.  But I think going after the NAACP, Urban League and similar type organizations (at the national level and local level) would be my first stop.  They have a central structure that can best put out a consistent and reachable message.  The church is too decentralized and too many ministers have their own agenda to ever get something effectively going.  Plus they are too conservative and probably (as a group) won't ever mobilize in the way that is necessary to make change happen.

I think there needs to be an attack on urban school systems, who really shouldn't feel too beholden to more conservative, suburban voters.  It's difficult to change sex ed classes at the state level, but probably not as difficult to do it at the school district level.  The school system is the key here, since they have access to the audience that needs to be reached.

The media also has potential to effect change.  But least likely to do so (in terms of desexualizing music and reducing the objectifying of women/girls).

Offline Dachshund

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2006, 08:04:10 AM »
I taught in inner city schools for many years. Believe me policies are set at the federal level if you expect any funding. Proper funding requires school districts to teach abstinence only sex education.

The power in most urban areas lies in the hands of African American ministers. Most won't touch the topic of AIDS with a ten foot pole.

I have volunteered at the same ASO for over ten years. When I started the clientele was exclusively white gay men. Now, we see nothing but African American women...I often wonder, where are the men? According to the statistics I think we know the answer to that.

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: AIDS report stirs black community
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2006, 03:38:32 PM »
While I don't disagree with some of your points Cliff, I know Dachs is absolutely accurate in terms of the control the Feds have on school through their restrictions.  in terms of what is taught about sex, condoms, etc.  Maybe if there is a Democratic administration that will change. For sure the Republicans aren't to let that happen on their watch.  School officials are terrified of doing anything that will stir up what is a minority, but a very, very vocal minority in communities all around the country including big cities, not just small towns. 

Secondly, the churches ARE very important. The challenge is how to get them to overcome sex-phobia, homophobia and HIV phobias, among others. Martin Luther King Jr. did not have an easy time mobilizing them for the bus strike in Montgomery among other now famous civil rights moments. Of course ministers have their agendas. No surprise there.

The question is who can get into those churches and be listened to? That is not a rhetorical question.

For the most part the media doesn't give a rat's ass about the subject. How many articles and how much coverage have you seen since the flavor of the week hoopla that went on briefly during the Toronto conference. It's back to biz as usual which means celeb obsessed inanities.

Think of this as a war which requires a lot of creativity to bring about change. By the way, I have written to the reporter who wrote this article and asked for contact information of the community people in Florida. I am FIRED UP on this one and if they will spring for airfare I will fly my gringo butt down there but fast to totally scandalize them with the real deal about HIV/AIDS. No kidding.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2006, 03:55:44 PM by Andy Velez »
Andy Velez


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