September 17, 2010
Dallas County has experienced a 30 percent increase in HIV cases over the last six years, and 14,000 residents now are living with the disease. In response, county Health and Human Services Department officials announced Thursday they are forming a new partnership with AIDS Arms and Resource Center Dallas (RCD) to devise strategies to combat the problem. Sixty-seven percent of cases are among men who have sex with men.
According to the partnership, community involvement is essential. "The key is resident input," said Zachary Thompson, county health department director.
Dr. Steve Wilson, Dallas County's STD/HIV medical director, said the areas with the highest increase in rates are Oak Lawn, Oak Cliff, and North Dallas. The county plans to open a new testing clinic in North Dallas, an area that lacks HIV services. AIDS Arms will open a clinic in Oak Cliff due to increased need, said Ed Jones, a behavioral intervention specialist with the group.
On Oct. 12 at 6 p.m., RCD will host the first community forum on prevention strategies. A second forum, sponsored by AIDS Arms, will be held on Oct. 28 in South Dallas at the Urban League, 4315 Lancaster Rd.
Among the groups with increased infection rates are people age 50 and older. Saturday, Sept. 18, is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, and AIDS Arms has coordinated a number of testing locations across the county. For a list, visit www.dallasvoice.com/hiv-testing-national-hivaids-aging-awareness-day-1044301.html.
Young people in the county also are seeing a significant rise in HIV infections. The county's rate for 13- to 24-year-olds is 54 cases per 100,000, said county Chief Epidemiologist Wendy Chung. That represents a 30 percent rise in recent years.