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Bell County seeing growth in HIV cases


A deadly virus is on the rise in one Central Texas community. A recent report from state health department shows Bell County is among the leaders in the state with people with the HIV infection.

As of the latest report, Bell County has 506 people infected with the virus. For a county its size, it ranks poorly in the state. It's case rate is 15.8, which means for every 100,000 people, more than 15 are infected. Its case rate is higher than Tarrant County, but lower than Bexar County. Both of those communities have significant population sizes larger than Bell.

It's a problem doctors and experts have seen go up as of late.

"They are usually concerned about  their health and they have probably done something they think they should be tested for in most cases," Owner of Any Lab Test Now Ronald Assed said.

Bell county is growing, and more people are moving to the area every day. Experts say that might be one causes for the high numbers.

"I think you would have to attach it to that just because there is so many people from so many areas all coming to one melting pot here," Assed said.

Experts say if you compare the concerns of HIV to those ten or twenty years ago. Those concerns aren't quite the same and might have caused people to become more relaxed about the fatal virus.

"I think that younger people now kind of forgotten the decade of AIDS that used to be in the media before when everyone was dying. I wonder if people aren't as safe when they do have sex," Scott & White Infectious Disease Physician Karen Brust said.

Experts and doctors say treatment will always be there, but it is better to be tested and know if you can infect someone else.

"What we do in the clinic is already take care of patients who are HIV infected and try to educate that person to promote education out in the community out to their loved ones and potential partners," Brust said.

The Bell County Health Department was contacted for this story, but our phone calls and emails weren't immediately answered.

To see the full report click here

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