The Laboratory Theater of Florida ends it’s run of the 2014 Tony-nominated Broadway play “Mothers and Sons,” by Terrence McNally, this weekend. The production tells the story of a woman who visits her late son’s former partner. Her son died from AIDS decades ago. The play’s broader themes of forgiveness and reconciliation are universal, but the backdrop of the fight for LGBT acceptance and the AIDS crisis hit close to home in Florida which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks number one in the nation when it comes to new rates of HIV infection. Local experts led an interactive audience ‘talk back’ after the Jan. 12 performance.
New data on HIV/AIDS cases from the Center for Disease Control paint an alarming picture of the disease spreading in South Florida. Cities like Miami report triple the national rate for new HIV infections in 2015, while smaller cities in Southwest Florida continue to show some of the highest number of cases per capita in the nation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, an estimated 9,731 youth aged 13 to 24 were diagnosed with HIV in the United States accounting for about 22% of all new HIV diagnoses. In 2012, an estimated 44% of HIV positive youth 18 to 24 years old didn’t know they had it. Public health experts worry about the millennial generation’s attitudes toward HIV prevention because today’s youth didn’t live through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.