Florida: Area Officials Wary Despite AIDS News
February 9, 2005
The number of AIDS cases in Manatee County is down 41 percent from last year, say local health officials. But despite indications that outreach prevention efforts are working, they acknowledge there is still much to do.
Manatee County ranks 13th among Florida's 67 counties in the number of HIV and AIDS cases, said Tom Miller, of the Manatee County Health Department's outreach clinic. Most troubling, Miller noted, is that minorities continue to be the most at risk. One in 34 African Americans in the county are HIV-infected, he said. Among Hispanics, one in 124 are thought to be HIV-positive, compared to one in 342 whites.
Last year, Kristen Pate, HIV/AIDS outreach coordinator for the county Health Department, oversaw a federally funded study to determine how the disease was spreading in Manatee County. The Rapid Assessment and Response Evaluation study determined that sex, drugs and alcohol are linked to HIV/AIDS cases in the county, and that HIV/AIDS outreach programs were frequently offered at times and places inconvenient for those most at risk.
In June, the state Department of Health gave the county $50,000 to devise new programs based upon the study's findings. The Manatee County Health Department hired 12 outreach workers, who began efforts to seek at-risk groups in mid-December. Within six weeks, the workers had convinced 68 high-risk individuals to get tested for HIV, said Pate.
In observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day, held Feb. 7, the county has scheduled the first Sports and Health Festival for Saturday. The event will take place at the Bradenton Boys and Girls Club, 1415 Ninth St. W., and will include free HIV tests and other health screenings, a basketball and softball tournament, and an awards ceremony. For more information, telephone the county Health Department at 941-748-0747, extension 1265.
02.07.05; Donna Wright
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.