Saturday, July 7, 2018

5 reasons for Miami and Fort Lauderdale's high HIV rates

Miami and Fort Lauderdale have led the nation in new HIV infections over the years. It's no surprise to locals who see giant billboards along I-95, bus ads and public service announcements on TV urging folks to get tested and treated. We also have the AIDS walk and other fundraisers and social events that promote safe sex, HIV awareness and the importance of PrEP.

But why does South Florida lead the nation in HIV compared to other states?  I reached out to some medical experts and HIV advocates in the region and wrote up a story in the Sun Sentinel that listed five reasons why HIV is rampant here.

"Some people have been around others who are infected for so long that they realize the disease is chronic and not the death sentence it was in the '80s so they have lost their fear of getting infected,''s said Claudette Grant, director of clinical services for Broward Health Community Health Services in Fort Lauderdale.

"We have so much HIV here in South Florida that the odds are that much higher a partner would have HIV,'' said Dr. Stephen Fallon of Latinos Salud, a Wilton Manors-based nonprofit that works with Latino gay men. "And, much more critically, we have so many people living with HIV who are either not in care, or not taking their medicines as prescribed."

There are more reasons but the five that I mentioned in the story are the ones that came up the most during my interviews.