On Tuesday in Miami's Liberty City, the national Black AIDS Institute and local activists announced the launch of a new public-private treatment and training outreach to fight the epidemic in south Florida. BAI will invest $50,000 to $70,000 to train local residents in HIV science, community mobilization and sustainability.
Since 2010, BAI has implemented Black Treatment Advocates Networks in Atlanta; Chicago; Houston; Jackson, Miss.; Los Angeles; and Philadelphia. The new BTANs will be based in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
"The South Florida AIDS community is one of the most heavily impacted communities in the country," said BAI President and CEO Phill Wilson. "With the nexus here, the connection between the Caribbean and the black community and the Latino community is a perfect place to do this kind of project." Blacks accounted for 20 percent of Miami-Dade's population but 52 percent of its AIDS cases and 44.7 percent of HIV cases through December 2008, county health department data show.
Charles Martin, executive director of the South Beach AIDS Project, said one in four black men who have sex with men in Miami are HIV-infected. "We as a group of people are not looking at the red flag right in front of us," he said. "The reason we're not doing good is because we haven't really entered the fight. There comes a time when we as a people ... have to learn to look at HIV and AIDS and realize that this is one of the most pressing issues for the black community and this country today."