June South Florida AIDS Network Report

The South Florida AIDS Network (SFAN) functions as the networking and advisory body for the Florida-Department of Health, Ryan White Care (FL-DOH RWC) grant in Broward County. Its monthly meetings are open to the public.

The Florida State Minority AIDS Coordinator, Ron Henderson, began the meeting. He spoke about the high risk for HIV infection among Blacks and Latinos. This is especially true among women.

In Broward, 82.5 percent of all women living with HIV are Black. With this high risk, increased HIV testing and linkage to HIV treatment among Blacks and Latinos have become critical to controlling the epidemic. Henderson reported that Blacks had low levels of awareness of Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

Henderson then discussed plans to improve HIV services for Blacks and Latinos. Florida has hired Ricardo Jackson of Palm Springs as the Statewide Black Men’s Sexual Health Coordinator. Plans to improve Latino services emphasize learning. Health planners will rely on Latino focus groups throughout Florida to improve the state’s HIV plan. A Latino Technical Consultation will occur in Orlando to obtain feedback from this community. 

Henderson linked the high risk of Blacks and Latinos with structural barriers. The segregated health care system used to exclude Blacks while public health workers failed to treat Blacks for syphilis in the Tuskegee experiment. Experiences like those built distrust. Current barriers include HIV stigma, lack of access to health care, and personal history of past racial hostility from medical staff. Immigrant Asians, Blacks, and Latinos may face language and documentation barriers. 

Yvette Gonzales reported on the PROACT program that works to improve linkage to HIV care. The staff of the PROACT program includes an Adherence Nurse, linkage coordinators, and HIV disease intervention specialists (DIS). The Adherence Nurse works with clients to help them take their HIV meds as directed. For example, a client, needing glasses, was unable to read the prescription label. That nurse obtained glasses for the client. The linkage coordinators work to link people with HIV care. The HIV DIS workers contact people living with HIV who have dropped out of care.

Trudy Love of Black Treatment Advocates raised questions about aggressive Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) workers. STD workers would come looking for people at their homes when Love’s clinic was already providing them with STD treatment. Love felt that this aggressive outreach was unnecessary and excessive. Love’s clients felt that this aggressive outreach stigmatized them further. Several people at the meeting expressed agreement with Love. Gomez, however, lacks control over STD workers. As this could become an important problem, people from the Health Department wanted to resolve this issue. The STD workers’ manager will attend an upcoming SFAN meeting.

Justin Bell of Fl-DOH-Broward RWC presented a table showing the documents that the Health Department requires for certification. Bell then reported on new intake processes for Broward Addiction and Recovery Center (BARC), the RWC residential substance abuse program. If an agency feels that BARC had unjustly denied its client admission, they should contact the FL-DOH-Broward RWC. According to Bell, BARC served 34 RWC clients between June 3, 2015 and June 3, 2016. These 34 clients included one lesbian, 16 gay or bi men, and zero transgender clients. 

Announcements

Next SFAN Meeting:  Friday, July 8 at 10 a.m., at the Holy Cross Healthplex, 1000 NE 56th Street, Ft. Lauderdale. Newcomers are encouraged to attend.

The United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) will occur in September in Hollywood, Fl. If you would like to volunteer, please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/USCA16.

A survey for people living with HIV is now available https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BCHIV2016.

Care Resource (954-567-7141) has hormone therapy vouchers available for transgender clients.


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