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Advocate for homeless in Jacksonville worries about TB testing

10:44 AM, Jul 18, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- "We all deserve a 2nd chance, or 3rd or 4th or 5th, or however many it takes," said Harry Divido. 

Divido spends every day trying to give the homeless population in Jacksonville their next chance.

He and his wife live in an RV and go to the different homeless camps around the city to try and reach a community they think has been forgotten.

"Out of sight, out of mind, if they don't talk about it, it doesn't exist," he said. 

Divido says the outbreak of tuberculosis in Jacksonville is the perfect example.

And while the CDC is now bringing in 5 different teams to try and test the homeless population, the first problem might be finding them.

"There are a lot of people who just don't come out, because they've been looked down on or made fun of. They don't come out of the areas they're in," he said.

And what happens if someone refuses to be tested, or refuses treatment?

Health Department spokesman Charles Griggs says if people don't look sick they can refuse testing, but if they appear to have TB, the Health Department can get a court order to mandate it they be tested.

No matter the effort, Divido says it won't be enough.

"They're outcasts. Because of the way they look, the way they smell, they don't have an address, they may be drunk. They don't get that support," said Divido. 

First Coast News

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