According to AIDS.gov, about 1.1 million people were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2016 in the United States. Today, this virus and disease affect over 29,000 people in the Greater Houston area alone. Although there is not an effective cure to this virus and disease, Harris County is taking steps towards raising awareness and providing services to those who are affected.
Since December of 1988, this month has been recognized nationally as the HIV/AIDS awareness month with December 1st being World Aids Day. Now thanks to Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, this is also recognized throughout Harris County. On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, Commissioner Garcia proposed a resolution to recognize the HIV-positive community and end the misinformation about this virus and disease.
This national campaign has created an opportunity for the world to learn about this disease, increase access to treatments and preventative services, and commemorate those who have passed on.
“This is about remembering that there lot of people who died feeling a stigma that they shouldn’t have,” said Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “It is also to encourage that Harris County values all diversity in our community including different ethnicities, cultures, faiths, genders, and sexual orientation,” Commissioner Garcia continued.
This topic hits very close to home for Commissioner Garcia, whose brother died from the virus. He proposed this resolution in hopes that it ends the discrimination and stigma that surrounds the HIV-positive community, and Harris County comes together to help fight the fight with those who are being affected.
“Everyone has an equal risk to this: law-enforcement, paramedics, nurses,” said Commissioner Garcia. “We have to bring awareness to prevent this and provide our communities with resources.”
Recognizing the problem and removing the negative imagery that surrounds the subject by providing information and preventive resources is only the beginning to a good fight. While there has been a lot of progress made, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Here are some things you should know about HIV/AIDS:
- HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus
- HIV can lead to AIDS
- HIV is a virus and AIDS is a disease
- It passes from one person to another through sexual contact, or contact with infected blood or body fluids
- One out of five people are not aware they are infected
- Some people don’t get any symptoms
- The only way to know your status is to get tested
If you or anyone you know is affected, Harris County Public Health offers HIV/STD prevention counseling, testing, and linkage to care services to eligible patients at various Health and Wellness Clinic locations across Harris County. When needed, patients are referred to partner agencies for the following:
- Routine medical and social services
- HIV risk reduction
- Treatment for patients with HIV/AIDS
You can also test at your own terms by simply texting 281-962-8378 and Harris County Public Health will connect you with an outreach staff to set up a time to meet for free and confidential testing. The outreach workers will test you anywhere you are and do not require insurance, as well as link you to care if your results are positive.
For more information on HIV/AIDS visit the Texas Department of State Health Services HIV/STD Program hiv.gov (www.dshs.state.tx.us/hivstd/); and visit the Harris County Public Health website to find out more about prevention programs, tests, and testing locations (publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/).