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U.S. News

Florida: Improved Treatment for Drug Abusers May Reduce AIDS Deaths

January 20, 2010

In 2009, 3 percent of Polk County's 100 new HIV diagnoses were attributed to injection drug use. Though the proportion for IDU-related cases has declined from its 1980s peak, IDUs today remain a hard-to-reach population.

"We don't see that many shooting galleries like we did," said Keith Boyd, HIV/AIDS program specialist at the county Health Department. The department targets ZIP codes with high IDU prevalence for free HIV testing and counseling, and workers visit homeless shelters and a methadone clinic.

Tim Dannemiller began a long struggle with drug addiction in his teens, continuing through his service in Vietnam and beyond. Dannemiller was diagnosed HIV-positive 25 years ago, having initially not worried about what he considered "a gay disease." After a series of failed detoxification efforts, he found success in a 10-month program at Fort Lauderdale-based Faith Farm Ministries.

"By the time I was in my 20s, I knew I was an addict and I was OK with that," said Dannemiller, who now provides outreach in Florida for Straight from the Heart, which focuses on HIV prevention information and support. He also attends a Christian 12-step program in Lakeland.

One program participant said he would use his own needle in venues where IDUs gathered to inject, and then set it down somewhere. Other IDUs did the same, never intending to share needles; however, less caution was used in picking needles up. "You'd think, 'Which one is mine,'" he said. "Sometimes you'd ask or sometimes you'd just shrug and take it."

Back to other news for January 2010

Adapted from:
The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida)
01.16.2010; Robin Williams Adams

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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.
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
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