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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

12/01/15: World AIDS Day; Kayak For Safe Passage Kids; Author Diane Roberts; Art And Antiques Show


Over the past 15 years, the global response to HIV/AIDS has vastly slowed the spread of the disease, averting more than 30 million new HIV infections and nearly eight million deaths since 2000.

New HIV infections are down 35 percent in the past 15 years, and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by more than 40 percent in about the same period. The discovery of antiretroviral treatments in the 1990s turned an HIV diagnosis from a death sentence into a chronic illness. But even though new HIV drugs can save lives, and halt the transmission of the virus, there remain big gaps in access to treatment.

Here in town, the local LGBT group JASMYN this week announced the new three-year AIDSFreeJax Campaign to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, primarily among Northeast Florida youth who are at particular risk.

We speak with Cindy Watson, executive director of JASMYN, and First Coast physician Dr. Dori Russ.

Rotarian, grandmother and retired neuroscientist Dr. Deb Walters joins us to discus her solo kayak voyage from Maine to Guatemala to raise awareness for Safe Passage, a nonprofit working to empower underprivileged children in Guatemala. Walters is currently working her way down Florida's coastline.

We speak with author and Florida State University professor Diane Roberts about her new book, "Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America."

And we preview the Women's Board at Wolfson Children's Hospital's annual Arts and Antique Show benefiting the hospital's programs to help sick children. Grace Sarber, president of the Women’s Board at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, and Annie Francis, whose grandmother Ellen Cavert founded The Women’s Board, join us.

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Sean Birch joined the WJCT team in late 2011 and was with the company until 2016.