October 2, 2009
The director of the Midland Area AIDS Support organization said it will expand its services to include educating parents about HIV/AIDS, as young people in the Permian Basin are increasingly being diagnosed with the disease. Judy Warren said of the roughly 176 clients MAAS assists, half are ages 15-24.
"[Parents] don't realize the danger their kids are in," said Warren. "They need to be educated so they can bring this home the way they want to or choose to."
Renue Batula's son was diagnosed just two months after graduating from an area high school. "The day we found out it was pretty crushing to say the least," she said. "To sit in front of people and have them tell you your son has a disease that could possibly kill him was a pretty devastating thing for a mother."
Batula has made HIV/AIDS awareness her mission. "We've got to make our community aware that it is here in Midland, Texas, that it's in Odessa," she said. "It's not just happening in big cities."
"It's not a gay disease," Batula continued. "It's not whether you're rich or poor or black or white or polka-dotted. It doesn't matter. This disease does not discriminate."
"We're trying to save the young people's lives," said Warren.