Cape Coral-Fort Myers ranks 16th in US for new HIV cases

February 21, 2019

The Fort Myers ZIP code, 33916, which encompasses largely black neighborhoods, has the highest number of people in Lee County living with HIV and AIDS. There were 257 cases in 2014, according to the health department.

And, indeed, heterosexual black men and women were ranked as Southwest Florida's second highest priority for prevention programs.

Amani Miller, 13 of Lehigh Acres, looks on as Michael Kehoe, Founder, CEO, of CARES Outreach Services, administered the HIV test. A Free and Confidential HIV testing event was held at Renaissance Preserve Saturday run by A Voice in the Wilderness Empowerment Center. The test results were given in 15 minutes and 99.8% accurate. CARES Outreach Services, Inc. was giving the tests.

This was one of the reasons why Ramona Miller, executive director and founder of A Voice in the Wilderness Empowerment Center in Fort Myers, which seeks to help people who have fallen through society's cracks, tries to target people the most at-risk.

She passes out condoms and offers to take people to get tested. She'd like to see more black churches play a role in prevention.

"The African-American community is one of the communities hit the most except it's kept very quiet," she said.

Miller is a lead organizer behind Saturday's Stay Alive & Thrive event, which offered free HIV testing, food and entertainment at the housing authority's Renaissance Preserve, which is in 33916. Lamb was also part of the event, which was timed with national HIV testing day. The event began in 2012 to fill a void, Miller said.

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