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Local and Community News

Miami: On a Crusade to Fight AIDS

January 6, 2003

John Delgado, 34, is an ex-convict who now works as an HIV/AIDS outreach worker for the private outpatient Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami. He spends his days and nights on the job in shooting galleries, on the streets outside Biscayne Boulevard motels and in the bathhouses on Coral Way. When he goes out, he carries condoms, HIV tests, safe sex literature and a book with photos showing the genitals of people suffering from various late-stage STDs.

Miami-Dade leads the state in new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, as it does for most STDs, with 1,360 HIV and 897 AIDS cases diagnosed so far this year, according to Florida’s Department of Health. The neighborhoods Delgado frequents -- Liberty City, Overtown and Brownsville -- have the highest HIV/AIDS concentrations in the county.

Delgado uses his windowless office to do counseling and sometimes to give results of HIV tests. But the work he likes best is done in the manmade caves of Miami, where the addicts go to inject heroin. On this day, he worked Overtown’s street corners and back lots. He wheedled people into taking HIV tests; handed out fistfuls of condoms; and used the book of STD photographs as an icebreaker.

Delgado said he meets close to 1,000 people a month and tests about 150. Between five and eight of those results generally come back positive. "You always hear that the first reaction with a positive result is denial," he said. "But a good portion of the people, I’d say maybe 80 percent, figured they were positive already. The other 20 percent, they’re just shocked. They just freeze. That’s probably the worst part about this job."

Back to other CDC news for January 6, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Miami Herald
12.29.2002; Nicholas Spangler



  
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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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