AIDS Reaches Crisis in Florida, State Senator Says
April 2, 2003
On Monday, Florida State Senator Frederica Wilson (D-Miami) welcomed the 1,500 participants to the 15th National HIV/AIDS Conference -- sponsored by the American Foundation for AIDS Research -- to Miami, saying: "We need you here. Florida is in crisis. We're not fighting a disease, we're fighting ignorance."
In a speech, Cristina Saralegui, whose Spanish-language TV program "The Cristina Show" is seen by 100 million people worldwide, said that young people today are "having unprotected sex because they think they can get an antibiotic and get rid of it." She said Hispanic parents do not talk to their children about sex. She has been working to change that, she said, since learning that some of the people closest to her have contracted HIV.
Minority populations and youth are especially at risk, with African Americans accounting for 56 percent of HIV cases and 46 percent of AIDS cases, even though they make up just 14 percent of the population, experts said. Hispanics, who comprise 17 percent of the population, account for 15 percent of AIDS cases and 16 percent of HIV cases in Florida, said Tom Liberti, chief of Florida's Bureau of HIV/AIDS.
"We've been living in this epidemic for 22 years and there is a whole new generation of gay men and young heterosexuals who are at risk -- people who were five or six years old when we were first getting the message out back then," Liberti said.
The media company Viacom Inc. is publicizing its KNOW HIV/AIDS prevention campaign in Miami. Viacom Vice President Carl Folta said his company pledged $120 million in advertising aimed at all public segments, but especially people under 25 and young African Americans. "Listen up," one such message said. "This is the fact. One in two. That's how many new HIV infections occur among people under the age of 25 in this country. One half. To know more about how to protect yourself, call toll-free 1-866-344-KNOW."
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
04.01.03; Nancy McVicar
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.