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.Adapted from:
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 Floridas 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 Overtowns 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, Id say maybe 80 percent, figured they were positive already. The other 20 percent, theyre just shocked. They just freeze. Thats probably the worst part about this job."
12.29.2002; Nicholas Spangler
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.