Florida: Project Studies AIDS Impact
September 5, 2003
The Manatee County, Fla., health department has received a $15,000 US Department of Health and Human Services grant to conduct a four-month project designed to address the disproportionate HIV infection rate among minority populations. Prevention efforts have not slowed Manatee's HIV infection increase among heterosexual women and blacks, according to health department statistics. Manatee ranks 10th among Florida's 67 counties in the number of AIDS cases and 11th in its HIV infection rate.
Women comprise one-quarter of Manatee's AIDS population, and blacks represent 41 percent of the county's total AIDS population. More than one-third of HIV cases are female and over half are black, according to May figures. "The timing is critical," said Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, who is participating in the project along with Mayor Larry Bustle of Palmetto.
Project staff will use the Rapid Assessment, Response and Evaluation process, based on research methods the World Health Organization employs to respond to epidemics worldwide. The federal Office of Minority Health trained Manatee's teams last week. Investigators will observe targeted neighborhoods around the clock, mapping social patterns and at-risk behaviors. The data will be used to write a response plan to target prevention and treatment programs to high-risk groups.
Two assessment sites have been identified: one in Palmetto and the second along the 14th Street corridor in Bradenton. The teams will hold focus groups with community leaders from targeted neighborhoods to complete the risk assessment. A community work group of leaders from local government, social services, and health agencies has been formed to lead the project.
Structured observation can lead to surprising data, said Sheila Pack Meriweather, an analyst with the minority office. She cited a Philadelphia project as an example. Field reports showed that sex for crack peaked after midnight and into early morning hours. Sex for money was most prevalent between 6-8 a.m. Philadelphia's HIV prevention programs, which peaked at midday, completely missed two of the most vulnerable at-risk groups.
08.31.2003; 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.