"Silence Is Death"

Health reports show African-Americans account for more than half of the HIV\AIDS cases in Florida.

Racial disparity can be seen right here in our own community.

"Silence is Death: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS in Florida's Black Communities" is a report issued by the Florida Division of Disease Control.

The study looks at 20 Florida counties that have at least 600 people living with HIV/AIDS through 2005.

Leon County comes in at number 20.

Jacksonville Native Latavia Foye said of the ranking, "Oh, wow. I am just so shocked. I'm a native of Jacksonville, so when I came down here I knew little about Tallahassee. I'm just so surprised to hear that. I didn't think Leon County of all places."

One out of every 162 African-Americans was reported to be living with HIV/AIDS in Leon County.

For Hispanics, it was one in 668, and one out of every 1,358 for Whites. That is an 8.4 to 1 gap between blacks and whites.

The Leon County Health Department says to reduce the racial disparity in HIV/AIDS, people should get tested. The department is aggressively trying to raise awareness and is teaming up with FAMU and FSU health educators.

Health Educator Brandi Williams at the FSU Thagard Health Center said, "We're making condoms more accessible here. We host different health fairs on campus. We go into the classrooms raising awareness about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. We hand out pamphlets [and] we counsel the students."

Health officials say breaking the silence can break the crisis from roaring through the community. In Georgia, more than twice as many blacks than whites have contracted AIDS since 1981.


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