September 4, 2009
A new report from the Florida Department of Health documents the state's first significant decline in AIDS death rates since 1999. "Man Up: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS Among Florida's Men" shows that from 2006 to 2007, AIDS-related death rates fell by 16 percent among black men, 15 percent among Hispanic men, and 11 percent among white men. At the same time, however, Florida in 2006 reported nearly 10 percent of the 56,500 new cases of HIV in the country.
The report focused on men because they represent nearly three-fourths of new infections, said Ronald Henderson, state minority AIDS coordinator and co-author of the study.
"People have let their guard down," said Debbi Tucci, HIV/AIDS program coordinator for the Orange County Health Department. "There isn't the kind of fear there used to be because we have medications that are allowing people to live longer," she said.
One in every 123 men in Florida was living with HIV/AIDS in 2008. One in 44 black men in Florida is living with HIV/AIDS; the proportion is 1 in 117 among Hispanic men and 1 in 209 among white men.
Urban areas in Florida vary widely in their rates of HIV, as well as how the disease affects different ethnic groups. In Miami-Dade, for example, the proportion of HIV among whites (1 in 60), Hispanics (1 in 82) and blacks (1 in 29) is higher in each group than it is in Orange County, the central Florida home of Orlando. There, the HIV rate among white men is 1 in 109, 1 in 130 among Hispanic men, and 1 in 55 among black men.
"[Counties] can look at that data and use that data to take action, Henderson said. "But it's not just health departments, community-based organizations and churches we want to get involved -- everybody needs to play a part," he said.
To view the full report, visit: www.wemakethechange.com/documents/ManUpReport2009.pdf.