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U.S. News

Texas: Expanded Study Finds High HIV Rate in Harris County

July 21, 2011

A three-year CDC testing project in Harris County confirms Houston's high HIV prevalence and the impact the virus is having on its black residents.

The goal of the project was to reach beyond people with known risk factors for HIV and test the general population. Testing was offered to people seeking care at four Houston-area emergency rooms -- Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Ben Taub and LBJ general hospitals and Memorial Hermann Southwest -- as well as at Legacy Community Health Services clinics.


In total, 1,000 new HIV cases were identified. Two percent of those tested were HIV-positive, and half of these cases were previously undiagnosed. Fewer than 4 percent of patients declined the offer to test, said Marlene McNeese-Ward, head of the Bureau of HIV, STD and Viral Hepatitis prevention at Houston's health department.

The local initiative was part of a broader CDC program promoting opt-out testing in 25 US cities. "Houston did particularly well," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "Not only was the rate of undiagnosed HIV in the population tested relatively high ... but the proportion of people who were linked to care represents an unusual success."

African-American Houstonians comprised one-third of those tested in the outreach but 60 percent of new HIV diagnoses.

McNeese-Ward said the city health department has been awarded another grant and is working with the state to continue expanded testing. Blacks, Hispanics, injection drug users and men who have sex with men will be the focus of the next three years of the project. "These four groups are the most disproportionately affected by HIV and make up 95 percent of the people with HIV/AIDS," Mermin said.

Back to other news for July 2011

Adapted from:
Houston Chronicle
07.08.2011; Cindy George

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More HIV Statistics on Western U.S. States

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