HIV cases lower in Central Texas than in the state - KXXV Central Texas News Now

HIV cases lower in Central Texas than in the state

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

A disease that was once thought of as a death sentence is losing its grip on society.

The Centers for Disease Control says that the number of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections has declined all over the country, in the last ten years. According to the organization's numbers, 39,513 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2015. 

In Texas, Department of State Health Services statistics show that the number of new HIV cases has been steady among men, and women over the last ten years. However, statistics from the McLennan County Health District show that the county has maintained a lower rate of new infections versus the number statewide.

Kelly Craine is the public health information specialist for the health district. She said McLennan County's biggest drop in HIV cases happened between 2009-2010.

"We're still continuously striving to make sure that we get that number lower we want to always get that number lower," Craine said. "In 2015, our rate for McLennan County was nine for 100k [people], where as the state it was 16.3 per 100k [people]. 

Craine said the county has been maintaining their numbers in a variety of ways. 

"There are a lot of things that we're working on it's not just a one prong approach," she said. "There is continual education, not only for people with HIV, but for the entire community... we also have medications that are called pre-exposure prophylaxis -- people know them as PrEP... with our business partners, community partners we've got a network of condom distributors."

Jerry Pierce has been living with HIV for the last ten years, and he said getting his diagnosis was life changing. 

"HIV actually saved me from myself and from some of the behaviors that I had at that time in my life," Pierce said. "It changed my whole aspect of what it is to live."

He said getting his diagnosis encouraged him to step up his advocacy for those who are HIV positive, even more. 

"That activist, and that advocate deep inside of me came out and said 'you need to be the voice for those who essentially don't have one,'" he said. "I hope that there are continued efforts to reduce the rate of new infections."

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