HIV threatens Leon County

The wait for an HIV and AIDS test might be long and nerve wrecking, but getting tested might be well worth the wait.

Tanya Tatum, director of student health services at Florida A&M University, said she credits the high rates of HIV and AIDS in Leon County to having three large institutions of higher learning in the same town.

She said college students are predominately of the sexually active population.

“Leon County ranks relatively high when you consider population and the statistics for HIV and AIDS,” Tatum said.

“We’re ranked 12 out of all the counties in the state of Florida. Considering the fact that we consider ourselves somewhat of a small town, that is extremely high for the number of cases.”

According to the Bureau of HIV/AIDS and the Florida Department of Health, no group of people is exempt from contracting HIV, but black men are most likely to contract the virus.
FDHS statistics suggest that one in every 44 black men contract HIV every year in comparison to the one in 209 for white men and one in 117 for Hispanic men.

“Your best friends could have AIDS,” said Derron Blackwood, a business student from West Palm Beach.

“It makes me uneasy, you’re not really sure who has it.”
Blackwood said that AIDS statistics made him more cautious and should encourage anyone to wear a condom when engaging in sexual activity.

“You have to wrap it up,” Blackwood said.

Though cases of HIV and AIDS in Leon County are high, FAMU is making an effort to decrease those numbers Thursday at FAMU Park.

The office of experimental programs and student activities are hosting the annual health fair as a part of its homecoming festivities.     There will be HIV/AIDS testing on site as well as other health screenings.

“The fair’s goal is to provide health promotion and disease prevention info to the students, faculty and staff of FAMU,” said Mildred Brockler, coordinator of experimental programs in the college of pharmacy.

In addition to HIV/AIDS testing at the fair, there will be blood pressure checks, height and weight measurements, glucose checks, osteoporosis screenings, carbon monoxide screenings, pulse and tongue diagnosis as well as a basic fitness evaluation.