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U.S. News

Texas: HIV Infection Rate Here "Alarming"

December 5, 2008

On World AIDS Day, the city Health Department released new figures showing Houston's HIV infection rate is almost twice the national average. Harris County had 44 new infections for every 100,000 people, compared with 23 per 100,000 nationwide. In 2006, around 1,700 county residents became HIV-positive.

"The new estimate is based on direct measurement of new HIV infections using a new technology that can distinguish recent from long-standing infections," said Porfirio Villarreal, a spokesperson for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. However, the amended figures do not represent an increase in the number of new HIV cases.

The department is currently using the new method to calculate the number of county residents who were infected in 2007, Villarreal said.

"In one year, one in 2,000 Houstonians became infected with HIV. That's a pretty alarming statistic," said Dr. Tom Giordano, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine and medical director at the Harris County Hospital District's Thomas Street Health Center, which provides care to approximately 4,000 HIV patients each year.

The data show that African Americans account for more than half of new HIV cases in the county. Hispanics are also hard-hit by the disease. Villarreal said local health officials have stepped up prevention efforts in these communities in response.

Working with community- and faith-based groups, the city Health Department has expanded HIV testing through mobile vans assigned to areas with the highest HIV rates. Thanks to a CDC grant, the city began offering HIV testing in emergency rooms at Ben Taub General Hospital and Memorial Hermann Hospital-The Texas Medical Center, as well as at Legacy Community Health Services locations, this summer.

Back to other news for December 2008

Adapted from:
Houston Chronicle
12.02.2008; 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
African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center: Newsroom