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JASMYN Kicks Off Campaign To Eradicate Youth HIV In Jacksonville


LGBT youth advocacy group JASMYN is announcing a $500,000 gift from the Dolores Barr Weaver Fund.

The gift is a matching fund meant to help the group meet its goal of eliminating youth HIV/AIDS in Jacksonville.

JASMYN’s executive director Cindy Watson says the amount of new HIV/AIDS infections in the United States has mostly stayed stagnant, but the infection rate among adolescents has seen an alarming uptick.

“We know that almost a quarter of all new infections for HIV are young people from the ages of 13 to 24,” Watson says.

Ahead of World AIDS Day, JASMYN has launched a new campaign to stem that increase as part of its strategic plan.

"[We plan to] Employ all of the resources we can garner and use every strategy available under the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, to fight this epidemic,” Watson says. “We believe that young people in Jacksonville can be a part of the very first generation that is an AIDS-free generation.”

According to the state health department, there was a 59 percent increase in new HIV cases in Duval County over the same period in 2014 and Watson says that’s partially due to the county’s lack of services.

JASMYN wants to raise an additional $1 million in the next three years to hire more caseworkers, buy new equipment and accept more HIV/AIDS patients into its program.

The Dolores Barr Weaver Fund has pledged to match any donations to JASMYN’s new campaign up to $500,000 and Watson says that’s a great start.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.