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
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