January 13, 2012
An estimated 68,000 Texans are living with HIV, up from 63,000 in 2009 and 60,000 in 2008, state health department data show. Statewide, about one-third of those diagnosed with HIV between 2003 and 2009 were diagnosed late in the course of the infection, receiving an AIDS diagnosis within a year of testing HIV-positive, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS).
The Victoria City-County Health Department saw its caseload increase in 2010 as well, with data showing 106 HIV patients treated by the agency, compared to 100 in 2009 and 94 in 2008. The majority of HIV patients treated by the department in 2010 were male Hispanics ages 45 to 64.
Recently, TDSHS employees conducted screening at an event at Victoria College. More than 40 people who attended were tested for chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. In addition to discussing STD risk factors with participants, Larry Botello, a disease-intervention specialist with TDSHS, spoke about prevention and contraception. "It's like a carpenter with his tools," said Botello. "You can have a lot of tools, but if you don't know how to use them, it's not going to help any."
The screening was sponsored by the Victoria chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender group and Haven, the college's gay-straight alliance. "The gay community at large needs to understand they are at high risk," said Fernando Garcia, chapter vice president.