Florida: "Get Tested" Is Advice as AIDS Infection Rate Rises in Duval
March 23, 2010
A rise in HIV infection rates among gay men has Jacksonville health officials and social services agencies redoubling prevention efforts aimed at this group. Their message: Get tested, and if you're infected, change your behavior.
The Duval County Health Department is planning an in-depth study to assess just how much faster new HIV cases are increasing among gay men. Since reporting began, more than 8,600 county residents have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. Of the county's 2,360 HIV cases, more than half have been ages 20 to 40, and nearly 40 percent were men who have sex with men (MSM).
The Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, which supports gay, bisexual, and transgender youths, says it is trying to reach young black MSM before they become part of a frightening statistic: At least one in every 13 is HIV-positive, according to the Florida Department of Health. As part of that effort, JASMYN is seeking opinion leaders to conduct peer-to-peer HIV prevention training.
JASMYN Executive Director Cindy Watson said many gay youths have been kicked out of their homes, ostracized, and rejected by loved ones. "When you get that message, you might feel like you don't have anything to lose," she said. "I'm bad already. I'm going to be as bad as I can be" is often the mindset, she noted.
On Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., JASMYN will hold a roundtable discussion about the rise in HIV among young gays at the Emmett Reed Community Center, 1093 W. Sixth St.
Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)
03.20.2010; Kate Howard