Estimated One in 22 MSM in Florida Living With HIV/AIDS, Report Says
An estimated one in 22 men who have sex with men in Florida are HIV-positive, according to a report conducted by the state Department of Health and released Tuesday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Spencer Lieb, a senior epidemiologist at the state health department, said that the data were based on an assumption that 10% of men in the state are MSM. He added that the estimate is the first attempt in the U.S. to quantify the impact of HIV/AIDS on MSM (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/14).
The report found one in 12 black MSM in the state are HIV-positive, compared with one in 18 Hispanic MSM and one in 29 white MSM. One in 58 black heterosexual men in the state are HIV-positive, compared with one in 148 Hispanic heterosexual men and one in 310 white heterosexual men, the report found (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/14).
Some advocates argued that the state might be underestimating the incidence of HIV/AIDS among MSM, adding that many MSM do not practice safer sex for a number of reasons. "There's no gay man who doesn't know having unprotected sex can lead to HIV," Christopher Lacharite -- a prevention coordinator at COMPASS, a Palm Beach County, Fla.-based gay and lesbian advocacy group -- said, adding, "But sometimes they ignore it, and that's what we have not been able to address."
According to advocates, federal and state funding for HIV prevention and education programs focus on established approaches that might be outdated, such as fliers. "Prevention (efforts) are disconnected from the gay community," Joey Wynn, an organizer at the Broward House in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said, adding, "There are new ideas out there." Lorenzo Robinson of the Palm Beach County Health Department and the state's coordinator for black MSM said, "Obviously, our programs are not working the way we would like" (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/14).
The report is available online (.pdf).