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Florida: Palm Beach County Officials Urge Intensified AIDS Crusade

May 30, 2003

On Tuesday, the Palm Beach County Commission gave its HIV Care Council the responsibility of launching a new AIDS prevention strategy to stem the area's epidemic, especially among the poor and minorities. But it is not clear who would pay for the $125,000 start-up costs.

Dr. Jean Malecki, county health director, told the board that the number of new infections rose from 357 cases in 2001 to 515 cases last year. She asked the commission to pay for the HIV Care Council's costs to operate the new program. "We must not accept any more infections and need a structure to prevent them," said Malecki.

But Commissioner Mary McCarty said it would be more appropriate for the county health care district, which runs a health plan for poor residents, to pay for the program, because many of its patients have the disease. Commissioner Addie Greene disagreed. She said that the commission, the health care district and other agencies should share the costs. The commissioners agreed to wait for the health care district board to discuss the proposal before making a decision.

Glenn Krabek, the care council's president, said efforts would not be duplicated if one group were responsible for coordinating all the county's AIDS prevention plans. It would also make it easier to collect public and private money for outreach programs.

Palm Beach County ranked sixth in the country in AIDS cases per 100,000 people at the end of 2001. Broward ranked fifth, and Miami-Dade was second behind New York City. The federal and state governments provide little money for prevention, Malecki said. Of the $23.5 million the county received last year for AIDS programs, little more than $1 million could be used for prevention, she said.

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Adapted from:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
05.28.03; Prashant Gopal

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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