PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - HIV/AIDS cases continue to grow despite a national effort to combat the disease. Those affected the most are African Americans who account for almost half of the cases nationwide.
In Palm Beach County they account for 61 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases.
Though troubling, the news comes just in time for Black AIDS Awareness Day.
In the last two years HIV/AIDS cases have caused more deaths in the black community than any other disease.
Last year, Florida was 3rd in the country for HIV/AIDS; now the state ranks 2nd.
"There's a trend that blacks are really being affected by HIV," says CAP Case Manager Andiye Pierre.
Between 2008 and 2010 Palm Beach County saw a total of 1109 new cases of HIV diagnosis, 47 percent of which were black hetereosexuals.
"Either they are not going to get tested because they don't have a reason to or they're afraid of the results," says Case Manager Jatara Mason.
Case managers at the "Comprehensive AIDS Program" say the numbers aren't only rising but those being diagnosed are getting younger and younger, raising in age from 17-24.
"A lot of people don't want to get tested," says Mason.
Right now over 7,500 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Palm Beach County. 62 percent are black.
"I think that's terrifying," says Wilneshia Jones.
But the main question is, "Why are blacks being infected more than any other race?"
"They have a belief system that it can't happen to me that it's someone else's problem," said Pierre.
But case managers say it's now everyone's problem.
Besides believing they are invincible, case managers say infidelity and HIV positive people willingly infecting their partners are other contributors.
Such is the case of a 22-year-old, HIV positive black male who admits to his case worker he is still sexually active. Although he says he uses protection.
"He went back to the young lady he had slept with and she knew she was HIV positive she basically said it was his fault he should have used a condom," said Pierre.
CAP says the solution to combating HIV/AIDS is for blacks to update their HIV status.
"You need to protect yourself, treat everyone as if they have the disease," said Pierre.
And the Center for Disease Control says one in 22 blacks will be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in their lifetime.
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