SHIP, SHAPE educate FL seniors about the rising risk of AIDS

BROWARD COUNTY, FL: Southern Florida is at the epicenter of a

troubling trend. Seniors over 50 account for 13% of all reported AIDS

cases in the state, and in the southernmost counties, such as Palm

Beach, that number has soared as high as 16%.



To combat the problem, two groups are using education and PR to inform

seniors about HIV.



"Most seniors don't think they can get HIV," said Jolene Mullens, early

intervention research consultant for SHIP (Senior HIV Intervention

Project), a tri-county initiative including Broward County, West Palm

Beach, and Miami-Dade County. "It's something they associate with

younger people. Seniors think the worst that can happen are curable

STDs."



SHIP is sending its staff and trained volunteers to assisted living

facilities, luncheons, churches, and dances to pass out brochures and

talk with seniors.



Day workshops and educational programs are being conducted as well. SHIP

is also targeting community leaders and radio programs popular with

seniors, and making doctors aware of the problem.



In Tampa, another group, SHAPE (Senior HIV/AIDS Prevention and

Education), is also sending volunteers into the senior community. During

August, both groups were the subject of segments on ABC News, CNN, and

A&E.



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