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Possible Caption:  The USF Center of HIV Education and Research provides training to health care providers and aims to expand HIV testing capacity in Florida.

Possible Caption:  The USF Center of HIV Education and Research provides training to health care providers and aims to expand HIV testing capacity in Florida.


Photo complications

So I went to USF over homecoming weekend so I could talk to them about my story and get a photo. However, things did not go as planned at all.

For some reason, I’m guessing because of the weekend,the USF Center for HIV Education and Research was closed. I thought about taking a picture of the outside of the building, but the HIV center is located in the Mental Health Center building. I didn’t think having a picture of a building that says ” Mental Health Center” would make sense for my story.

I didn’t want to leave USF without a picture, so I got a picture of the USF Health sign. I don’t think it is the best picture, but it is what I have to work with for now. I know IV drug users, so I could possibly get a picture of a syringe or something. I would just feel awkward asking them, and I feel like that photo would be too staged.

The bright side is that I’m not completely screwed. I would have rather got the interview in person, but at least I can phone it in and still have a good source.


Questions For USF Center for HIV Education and Research

So these are the questions I definitely need to ask the USF Center for HIV Education and Research.

1. What percentage of new HIV cases in Florida are linked to IV drug use?

2. Are there any privately-funded needle exchange programs currently operating in Tampa?

3. If so, has there been any difference in the HIV rates since the introduction of these programs?

4. If not, are there parts of Tampa that would benefit from a needle-exchange program?

5. Do you believe that needle-exchange programs are effective enough to be publicly- funded?


New focus

So I’ve been doing research on my story and the focus has changed a little bit. The bill HR 6880, which seeks to make needle-exchange programs publically funded, has been introduced to Congress but not yet passed. I still want to write a story on it though because I looked at the actual HIV statistics in Florida and they are worse than I thought they were. Florida is number two in the nation for new HIV cases. The Harm Reduction Coalition is holding the panel in Miami, so I still want to incorporate that into the story. The other source I want to use is the USF Center for HIV Education and Research, which is centered in Tampa. Both Tampa and Miami have high HIV rates, so it will be interesting to see how HIV organizations in both cities feel about the bill. The only issue I’m having is pinning down a publication to submit my story to. I should focus the story more towards a Tampa audience, since my main source is located in Tampa, but I don’t know which publication yet.


New Idea for Story

So my old idea had been done before, so I decided to do a story focused on Miami’s needle-exchange laws. So my sources and audience would be based in Miami. Like Gainesville, Miami has extremely high HIV rates. On July 30th, Florida passed bill HR 6880, which stipulated that tax dollars could be allocated to fund needle-exchange programs. The needle-exchange program allows IV drug users to trade in used needles for clean ones, in the hopes that the spread of HIV will be curbed. The bill has been extremely controversial, so the Harm Reduction Coalition is holding a panel on November 13th to discuss the bill.

My sources would be a representative from the Harm Reduction Coalition which favors the bill. I also want to interview someone who doesn’t approve of it. I also would like to see if HIV rates have been affected since the introduction of the bill.


Writing My Story

So I have begun the process of writing a news story. I’m pulling from my own experience a little bit, because the idea for the story came from a class I took. I took Human Sexuality last fall, and my teacher showed the class some pretty jarring statistics about the prevalence of STIs.

STIs are far more common than one might think. I feel that this story is news- worthy because in a college environment people don’t always stop to think about sexual health. One statistic in particular that I found especially important for students to know is the fact that Alachua county has the one of the highest HIV rates in the state of Florida. Florida has one of the highest HIV rates in the nation.

The story would not inform students about the prevalence of STIs, but also inform students of the resources on campus that help UF students maintain a healthy sex life. I plan on interviewing my professor to get the updated statistics, and I could also interview a representative from Gator Gyno. Gator Gyno offers STI screenings and the HPV shot. I could also interview Planned Parenthood or Gator Well, which are places a student can go to get condoms.

My audience is University of Florida students, and I would like to get my story published in The Avenue section of the Alligator, which features a column for sex-related stories.