Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

World Aids Day 2007; AIDS/HIV Increasing among Black and Older Residents

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

World Aids Day 2007; AIDS/HIV Increasing among Black and Older Residents

Article excerpt

Byline: WENDI ZONGKER

New cases of HIV and AIDS in Nassau County have remained consistent over the years, but the disease is becoming more prevalent in the county's black and older populations, according to the Nassau County Health Department.

The percentage of adults 50 or older infected with human immunodeficiency virus is higher in Nassau County than in Duval, St. Johns, Clay and Baker counties, said Kim Geib, director of disease control and prevention services at the Nassau County Health Department.

The Florida Department of Health estimates there are 132 people living in Nassau County with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome cases.

Geib said adults 50 or older account for 23 percent of the HIV cases and 12 percent of the AIDS cases.

While blacks make up only 7 percent of Nassau's population, 42 percent of residents with AIDS and 31 percent of those with HIV are black.

"Right now in Nassau County, 7.1 percent of the county is African-American, yet they bear the higher burden of some diseases and some death rates," Geib said.

Nassau County averages almost four new HIV/AIDS cases per year while the state average is 27. Two new cases were reported to the Nassau County Health Department in 2005, followed by four in 2006 and two since July.

The county's HIV rate is low but Geib said cases of HIV have increased recently in the older population. HIV indicates a newer infection while AIDS can take eight to 10 years after infection to develop from HIV.

Geib said she doesn't know what is causing the increase in the elderly population, but it could be because people are living longer.

"People are living to 80 and 90 now, and Viagra and Cialis and other sexual-enhancing drugs for men have been popularized so there's more opportunity for sexual activity," Geib said. "And if they have multiple partners and they're not using protection, that's an issue, too. …

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