December 10, 2008

December 10, 2008
Houston HIV Exposure Twice National Average

Welcome to another day in my life. We have made it to the middle of another work week. This time of year seems to fly by even quicker than the rest of the year.

I have our upcoming Teddy Bear Touchdown for the children at our HIV Community Christmas Luncheon, working on two HIV convention steering committees and the everyday things we all have to do during the holidays and in our lives.

So you can imagine my shock today when I read about the high HIV exposure rates in Houston which are twice the national average. (Within the past couple of months, I wrote a blog entry about Philadelphia having the same problem.)

Houston’s annual HIV infection rate is nearly twice the national average, according to figures released on World AIDS Day, December 1, by the city’s health department, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The data are based on a more accurate calculation method used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which announced in early August that the country’s rate of HIV incidence was 40 percent higher than previously estimated.

Nationwide, there are 23 new infections for every 100,000 people, compared with 44 per 100,000 in Harris County, where Houston is located. In 2006, about 1,700 of the county’s residents became HIV positive.

“In one year, one in 2,000 Houstonians becomes infected with HIV,” said Tom Giordano, MD, medical director at the Harris County Hospital District’s Thomas Street Health Center. “That’s a pretty alarming statistic.”

Although blacks and Latinos account for only 60 percent of Houston’s population, they made up 78 percent of the city’s HIV cases in 2006. Houston’s health department is using prevention efforts in both communities and is assigning mobile testing vans to areas in the city with the highest HIV rates.

So as I warned health official in Washington DC back in the late 90s, HIV infection is spreading like wildfire through the heterosexual community just as it did in the homosexual community.

The big question now is how soon Texas will end up with an ADAP Waiting List because of their high HIV infection rate.

Hopefully now President-Elect Obama will be taking office in a little over a month, Ryan White Care Act funding will be increased and our country will finally have a real domestic HIV/AIDS policy.

We all need to work together to take care of those already infected while preventing new infections and getting people to get tested for HIV.

How can you help? Get involved. Donate time to an AIDS Service Organization in your city. Write, call or fax your political representatives.

I hope you have a great rest of the week. Remember to take some time to enjoy the light displays up for the holidays and enjoy the season.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab