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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Minority HIV/AIDS Initiatives

HIV/AIDS


Florida’s Minority HIV/AIDS Initiatives
HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Program

More blacks in Florida are living with HIV or are already dead from AIDS than any other racial or ethnic group. In Florida, approximately 1 in 58 non-Hispanic black males and 1 in 83 non-Hispanic black females were living with a diagnosed case of HIV/AIDS. This compares with approximately 1 in 310 non-Hispanic white males, 1 in 1,625 non-Hispanic white females, 1 in 148 Hispanic males, and 1 in 553 Hispanic females. There are HIV/AIDS gaps between blacks and whites and gaps between Hispanics and whites, but the black-white gap is the widest by far. As a result, the Department of Health has redoubled its commitment and mobilized its resources to address the disproportionate impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on minority communities. Numerous innovative interventions, strategies and initiatives, such as those described in this document, reflect measured input from committed community members, legislators and public health officials. Some of the specified activities have already begun to produce results, while others show strong promise for benefits in the near and long term. With the persistence of disparities concerning HIV/AIDS among minorities, the department considers it an urgent priority to seek even further interventions to reverse this unacceptable trend.

Ongoing and/or Current Initiatives

Man Up Community Mobilization Meetings
Community mobilization meetings were conducted in nearly every area in the state to encourage men to take responsibility for the consequences of their sexual actions. The mobilization meetings included more than just HIV/AIDS, it focused on other health, social, economic, and cultural issues. Man Up shop talks were held in barbershops across the state to encourage men to get tested for HIV, become more responsible and to value their overall health. Man Up mobilization meeting were held in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers and Daytona Beach.

Man Up: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS Among Florida’s Men:
In Florida, 1 in 209 white men, compared to 1 in 44 black men and 1 in 117 Hispanic men are living with HIV/AIDS (reported cases). The Man Up report was created to mobilize men to eliminate their risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV/AIDS. “Man Up” is an urban term which means that men should fulfill their responsibilities as a man. The report also seeks to encourage men to “Man Up” and take responsibility for the consequences of their sexual actions and other HIV risk behaviors, for the benefit of themselves and their partners. The goal is to stimulate the development and implementation of community action plans to prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS among Florida’s men and their partners.

Sistas Organizing to Survive (SOS):
Sistas Organizing to Survive (SOS) is a grassroots mobilization of black women in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In Florida, one in 68 non-Hispanic black women are known to be living with HIV/AIDS. This compares with approximately one in 1,281 non-Hispanic white women, and one in 472 Hispanic women. For over 15 years, HIV/AIDS has been the leading cause of death among black women aged 25-44 years in Florida. The Sistas Organizing to Survive movement aims to educate black women about the impact of HIV/AIDS and to develop an action plan that prevents the further spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Florida's black communities. We are counting on the community to educate black women and encourage them to get tested.

SOS: Sistas Organizing to Survive Conference:
The Florida Department of Health hosted the first SOS: Sistas Organizing to Survive conference in Orlando, FL. Almost 600 consumers, health providers, and community leaders participated in the event. Over 300 women actively pledged to engage in a statewide education network that encourages black women to become participatory in their own health. Objectives of the SOS conference:

• Educate black women about HIV/AIDS and how other STDs, hepatitis and substance abuse increase their risk
• Empower black women to take charge of and control of their sexual health
• Connect black women to HIV/AIDS resources
• Offer tools to enable black women to educate others where they live, work, play and worship
• Encourage black women to take a pledge to get tested for HIV and to educate others where they live, work, play, and worship

Our goal is to test 100,000 black women each year by 2010.

Latinas Unidas Contra El SIDA (LUCES)
In September 2008, the Latina women group created a statewide community mobilization initiative entitled “LUCES. (Latinas Unidas Contra El SIDA) or Latinas united against AIDS.” LUCES is a community mobilization initiative that was created to heighten the awareness about HIV/AIDS and encourage Latina women to get tested for HIV. LUCES mission statement is to empower Latina women to understand and prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and access services for infected Latinas in the State of Florida.

A six series DVD set was developed to share best practices and offer tools to enable Latina women to educate others about HIV/AIDS where they live, work, play, learn and worship. The resources in the DVD are presented through four main characters: the Wise Light – the Grandmother; Bright Light – the Mother; Radiant Light – the Daughter; and Brief Light – the Granddaughter. It is through these four characters we are able to provide HIV prevention messages and present them to Latina women in a culturally relevant manner.

The DVD set was distributed throughout the state along with other items to mobilize Latinas to prevent HIV/AIDS and encourage them to get tested for HIV. In addition, community mobilization meetings were held in every area of the state. Many of the participants felt that the LUCES DVD can help local agencies and community members raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS among Latina women.

Organizing to Survive: The HIV/AIDS Crisis Among Florida’s Women:
Although this report was not written specifically for black and Latina women, the report seeks to mobilize women to confront and overcome their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. To achieve this broad aim, an analysis of Florida’s HIV/AIDS data among women by race/ethnicity is presented, together with a realistic set of recommendations. The goal is to stimulate the development and implementation of community action plans to prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS among women living in Florida. The objectives of this report are to:

• Raise awareness about the magnitude of HIV/AIDS among women in Florida’s communities.
• Strengthen women’s ability to take charge and control of their sexual health.
• Connect women to HIV/AIDS resources.
• Offer tools to enable women to educate others about HIV/AIDS and HIV prevention where they live, work, play, learn, and worship.
• Inform women about mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
• Increase the capacity of women to build effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in local communities.

Florida’s Faith-Based Initiative:
The Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS program has renewed its commitment to assist faith-based organizations in addressing HIV/AIDS in the state of Florida. The HIV/AIDS program has been working with communities of faith since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Our long standing commitment with faith-based organizations has resulted in more HIV testing, education, and outreach throughout the state. We are seeking to enhance our existing faith initiative to enable us to redouble our commitment to work with faith-based organizations. Our faith-based initiative is not about a single faith; it is inclusive of all denominations. The goals of the faith initiative are to expand opportunities for faith-based organizations to strengthen their capacity to meet the HIV/AIDS needs of Floridians; and to mobilize congregations and communities to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis regardless of race, ethnicity, or behavior.

The AME Church and the HIV/AIDS program Partnership:
The Eleventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and the Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS program has signed a partnership agreement to foster a historic alliance to establish one AME Church in every county in Florida as an HIV test site or test location. This partnership of agreement outlines the Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS program and the Eleventh Episcopal District of the AME Church commitment to work together to reduce HIV/AIDS among blacks.

The General Baptist State Convention of Florida:
The Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS program has partnered with the General Baptist State Convention of Florida to foster a historic alliance to establish one HIV health ministry in every county in Florida. The Department of Health will partner with the General Baptist State Convention of Florida to expand opportunities to strengthen their capacity to meet the HIV/AIDS needs of their churches and their congregations. The General Baptist State Convention of Florida will identify one church in every county in the state to work with the department to establish an HIV health ministry. The goal of this partnership is to mobilize churches, congregations, and communities to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Florida’s black communities. This partnership agreement outlines the General Baptist State Convention of Florida and the Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS program commitment to work together to reduce HIV/AIDS among blacks.

Silence is Death Initiative:
The HIV/AIDS program produced a report entitled “Silence is Death: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS in Florida’s Black Communities. The report documents racial/ethnic disparities according to several persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) (reported cases) measures in the 20 Florida counties with a total of at least 600 PLWHA through 2005. The PLWHA data for the top 20 counties are presented in rank order so that the experience of each county can be put in perspective with the others, facilitating the targeting and prioritization of efforts to close the gaps.

The report was written to serve as a community mobilization tool to assist counties to break the silence by raising awareness about HIV/AIDS among blacks; encourage local governments and communities to expand and strengthen their responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among blacks; encourage individuals to be tested for HIV/AIDS; increase access to HIV prevention and care services; reduce barriers to HIV testing, prevention and care by reducing HIV/AIDS stigma; and to stimulate the development of a plan to address the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS is having on black communities.

Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) Consultation:
The HIV/AIDS program hosted a MSM Consultation that included both black and Latino men. The consultation was in response to recent national and statewide HIV/AIDS data that continue to show the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS is having among black and Latino MSM. The purpose of this consultation is to allow a small group of black and Latino MSM discuss their perspectives on what needs to be done to address the increasing rates of HIV/AIDS in their communities. The meeting concluded with several outstanding recommendations.

Women of Color Consultation:
The HIV/AIDS program hosted a Women of Color Consultation that included both black and Latina women. The consultation was in response to recent national and statewide HIV/AIDS data that continue to show the increasing HIV/AIDS rates among women of color. The purpose of this consultation is to allow a small group of black and Latina women discuss their perspectives on what needs to be done to address the increasing rates of HIV/AIDS in their communities. The meeting concluded with several outstanding recommendations.

Minority AIDS Coordinators: Minority AIDS Coordinator positions were created by the 1999 legislature (House Bill 2125) within the Florida Department of Health. The goal of the minority AIDS coordinators is to facilitate statewide efforts to implement and coordinate HIV/AIDS prevention, early intervention and treatment programs for racial/ethnic minority communities. The primary responsibilities of these positions include providing or coordinating technical assistance to community-based organizations (CBOs) and providing consultation on community planning, treatment and care and prevention specifically as it relates to closing the racial/ethnic minority HIV/AIDS gap.

Statewide Minority Media Campaign: On June 1, 2000, the HIV/AIDS program unveiled the HIV/AIDS Minority Media Campaign. The media awareness program entitled, “We Make The Change,” is aimed at increasing awareness about HIV/AIDS throughout Florida’s minority populations, including African American, Hispanic and Haitian/Caribbean Americans. The campaign includes television and radio commercials, a public service message, print ads, outdoor ads and a website. The campaign will be expanded to include the AIDS Drug Assistance initiative.

Collaboration with the NAACP: The HIV/AIDS program works closely with the NAACP to address HIV/AIDS disparities among blacks. The HIV/AIDS program helps to organize health fairs, participate during annual statewide conventions and consult the President of the NAACP on statewide HIV/AIDS issues as it relates to blacks.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a community mobilization effort that emphasizes the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS is having among blacks and encourages individuals to be counseled and tested for the virus. Each year, the HIV/AIDS program encourages community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and county health departments from across the state to conduct educational and outreach activities, HIV testing and many other special events that will empower and mobilize black communities in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD): October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. This day is set aside to heighten awareness about HIV/AIDS and encourage individuals to get tested for HIV. Each year, the HIV/AIDS program encourages county health departments, community-based organizations and the community as a whole to plan and participate in HIV/AIDS activities that promote awareness and encourages individuals to get tested for HIV. Statewide NLAAD events usually include HIV/AIDS outreach, counseling, testing, referral services, health fairs, educational presentations and condom distribution in Latino communities.

Minority AIDS Initiative: The HIV/AIDS program currently funds seven minority community-based organizations to increase and continue minority participation in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The Antiretroviral Treatment Access Study (ARTAS) is implemented as a tool to improve linkage to care for HIV infected minorities that are not in care.

Building Organizational Proficiency Projects (BOPP): The HIV/AIDS program provides $75,000 in funding to two minority community-based organizations, which provide services on a voluntary basis and may have applied for grants, but have been unsuccessful in securing funding. The funds will allow the establishment of infrastructure, including securing a location, office furniture and other office supplies, and funds for the hiring of qualified applicants into key positions. The community-based organizations will continue to receive intensive one-on-one capacity building assistance and technical assistance from the HIV/AIDS program and county health department staff.

Targeted Outreach for Pregnant Women Act (TOWPA): As part of a legislative requirement, the HIV/AIDS program has funded seven community-based organizations to identify high-risk minority pregnant women through outreach and link them with prenatal care and other services. TOPWA providers also offer pregnancy and HIV testing and provide education about the benefits of prenatal care and the use of AZT to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to infants.

Black and Latino Leaders Advisory Groups: The HIV/AIDS program established a Black and Latino Leaders Advisory Group in an effort to address HIV/AIDS issues in Florida’s Black and Latino communities. The advisory group consists of Black and Latino community leaders that were nominated by their community and department staff from around the state. The role of the group is to serve as a voice for the Black and Latino community and to make recommendations to the HIV/AIDS program on the HIV/AIDS issues affecting Florida’s Black and Latino communities.
Statewide Latino AIDS Coordinator: In an effort to further address HIV/AIDS disparities among Florida’s Latinos and at the request of the Latino Leaders Advisory Committee, the HIV/AIDS program designated a Statewide Latino AIDS Coordinator to help reduce HIV/AIDS among Latinos. The position is located at the Miami-Dade County Health Department and reports to the Statewide Minority AIDS Coordinator located in Tallahassee. This position will be responsible for planning and coordinating HIV/AIDS activities in Florida’s Latino communities.
Statewide Black Men who Have Sex with Men (MSM) AIDS Coordinator: In an effort to further address HIV/AIDS disparities among Florida’s Black men who have sex with men and at the request of the Black Leaders Advisory Committee, the HIV/AIDS program designated a Statewide Black MSM Coordinator to help reduce HIV/AIDS among Black MSM. The position is located at the Palm Beach County Health Department and reports to the Statewide Minority AIDS Coordinator located in Tallahassee. This position will be responsible for planning and coordinating HIV/AIDS activities in Florida’s Black MSM communities.

Men who have sex with men Media Campaign: In collaboration with the Black and Latino MSM groups, the HIV/AIDS program has created MSM media campaign that consists of four components. The components of the MSM media campaign are: Internet Banners and Leader board on gay websites; Gay event sponsorship; Interior Bus Transit ads; and ads in Gay publications.

Ujima Men’s Collective: In order to address the black men who have sex with men (MSM’s) population in Florida, the HIV/AIDS program funded Ujima Men’s Collective. The mission of the Ujima Men’s Collective is to create a network of black MSM from around the state of Florida to address issues that are germane to black MSM in various populations. The primary focus of the Ujima Men’s Collective is to build the capacity of black MSM to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

25 Myths / 25 Realities (25 Mitos/ 25 Realidades): The Hispanic AIDS Awareness Program (HAAP), Miami-Dade County Health Department and the acclaimed TV/Theater producer Miguel Ferro were the producers of 25 Myths / 25 Realities (25 Mitos/ 25 Realidades): An HIV/AIDS Latino Public Service Awareness (PSA) Campaign. This campaign has secured the support of 27 Latino celebrities who through their image and voices recorded 25 public service announcements that address the truth about HIV/AIDS myths. The 25 televisions and print public service announcements are now available at HAAP web site, www.HispanicAIDS.org.

Palabras Sabias
“Palabras Sabias” (words of wisdom) is a Latino HIV/AIDS social marketing campaign designed to increase HIV/AIDS awareness. Commonly-used Spanish phrases are combined with HIV prevention messages. The campaign uses posters and vintage cards to promote HIV prevention, testing, and linkage to care. They are intended to be used in prevention educational efforts at community events and outdoor print media. The posters are intended to reach heterosexual Latinos and Latinas, while the vintage card series targets Latino Gay Men.

Damaries" and "MSM Latino
"Damaries" and "MSM Latino" are two public service announcements targeted towards Latinas and Latino MSM at highest risk for HIV infection. The MSM Latino PSA targets gay-identified men and non-gay identified men who have sex with other men. The PSAs will air in radio/TV media and coordinated/organized settings (e.g. physicians’ waiting rooms, health fairs, community events, video bars, etc.).

Postivo Soy
"Postivo Soy" (I am Positive) is a half-hour video about four Latino men living with AIDS. The four men discuss issues related to HIV disclosure, medication adherence, and HIV prevention. The video, in Spanish with English subtitles, is a tool to be used in prevention interventions targeting HIV-positive individuals, addressing HIV/AIDS related stigma and medication adherence. The video was released in late July in Broward County.

Quien No Te Protege, no Te Merece
“Quien No Te Protege, no Te Merece" is a supplemental video to be used as part of the VOICES/VOCES intervention targeting Latinos. VOICES/VOCES is one of the behavioral interventions currently included within CDC’s compendium of effective behavioral interventions. Produced by the Miami-Dade County Health Department, Office of HIV/AIDS, the video is intended to be used with Latino gay men and includes a diverse cast of characters.

Amigas
"Amigas" is a study designed to adapt an HIV prevention intervention found to be effective for African American women. The study is now entering its pilot phase and is currently recruiting Latinas into the study. This effort is spearheaded by the Miami-Dade County Health Department, Office of HIV/AIDS, in collaboration with researchers Ralph DiClemente and Gina Wingood. Upon the completion of the study phase, the intervention will be considered for inclusion in CDC’s compendium of effective behavioral interventions.

Finding Our Voices: Mobilizing Black Gay Men
Finding Our Voices: Mobilizing Black Gay Men DVD is a community mobilization initiative to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS among black gay men. The purpose of DVD is to raise awareness and to mobilize black gay men to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis in their communities. The goals are to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis among black gay men, to promote greater understanding about issues surrounding HIV/AIDS that affect black gay men. The Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS program encourages individuals, providers, and communities to promote strategies for effective interventions to reduce new infections and encourage black gay men to get tested for HIV.