Florida: An Urban Cowboy Travels Daytona Beach's Streets in a Quest to Combat AIDS and Other Diseases
July 18, 2005
Leroy "Bo Pete" Robinson, a disease-intervention specialist for the Volusia County Health Department, wears a trademark Stetson cowboy hat as he travels the Daytona Beach area giving out condoms, rape awareness posters and water bottles with the department's clinic locations. An estimated 1,100 people in Volusia County have HIV/AIDS, and officials estimate another 150-220 are infected but do not know it.
Robinson seeks to reach people with HIV and other STDs and encourage them to be tested. Each year, according to the county Health Department, another 600 cases of gonorrhea and 700 cases of chlamydia are reported, along with a handful of syphilis cases. Robinson and two other Health Department employees notify the sexual partners of anyone who tests positive for HIV or syphilis.
Robinson covers an area from east Volusia into Flagler County, but often returns to his hometown, Daytona Beach. His twenty-plus years of dedication have earned him the community's trust, according to Bill Drahos, HIV/AIDS surveillance manager for the county Health Department.
Ricky Reid, owner of The Crab Stop, a take-out restaurant popular with college students, said of Robinson, "The young black generation, they can talk to him."
According to the Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS cases among blacks in Florida have dropped 30 percent from 1999-2004. Mother-to-child transmission also decreased, which Drahos attributes to better screening.
Nevertheless, despite the efforts of health officials, HIV cases are most prevalent among people ages 15-35. That group, Drahos said, is most likely to be mixing alcohol and drugs and unsafe sex.
07.13.05; Jeff Libby
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.