Dallas County, Tex., Retains State's Worst HIV Rate
April 26, 2010
Dallas County continues to have highest HIV rate in Texas, with 36 new cases per 100,000 residents in 2008. Though the rate declined from 37.5 cases per 100,000 in 2007, it is higher than Harris County's infection rate of 32.5 per 100,000 in 2008.
"This is not new. This is not sudden. What's important is that this trend has been recognized," said Dr. Wendy Chung, Dallas County's chief epidemiologist for reportable diseases.
The county recorded 859 new HIV cases in 2008 for a total caseload of 13,500 residents with HIV or AIDS. That compares with 1,288 cases in Harris County, which includes Houston, for a total of 18,751, according to the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.
"The HIV epidemic in Dallas County is reaching crisis levels in terms of our city's health status, economics, and quality of life," said Raeline Nobles, executive director of the nonprofit AIDS Arms Inc.
Zachary Thompson, executive director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said the county has been working with AIDS service organizations to try and lower the HIV rate. "It's why we wanted to begin distributing condoms in Dallas County," he said. County commissioners in 2008 lifted a 13-year ban on condom distribution.
Dallas County released the 2008 figures the same day the Texas Department of State Health Services published its 2008 annual HIV/AIDS report, which showed a steady increase in the number of Texans living with HIV/AIDS. A total of 63,019 state residents were known to be living with the disease by the end of 2008, an increase of 42 percent in seven years, that report found.
Dallas Morning News
04.20.2010; Sherry Jacobson