HIV cases increasing in Austin

AUSTIN -- The number of new HIV and AIDS cases confirmed in Austin has been increasing steadily since 2006.

At first, cases seemed to be decreasing, according to Shannon Jones, the director of Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services.

"The numbers had begun to go down a few years ago, and we were sort of optimistic about what happened," said Jones.

However, within the past several years, the number of people with HIV and AIDS in Austin has climbed.

"(Austin) saw a younger population, also the influx of new populations into the Austin area," said Jones.

In 2006 there were 3,617 known people with HIV in Austin. By 2012 that number had jumped to 5,084.

Gay white males have the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases in Austin, but Jones say the community with the highest percentage of cases is African Americans.

Second to that, they are seeing a growth in HIV and AIDS cases in the Hispanic population.

"In both the African American and Hispanic population, most of that is being driven by MSMs: men who are having sex with men," said Jones.

"I think we see a disproportionate on the Hispanic and African American communities primarily because we see a disproportionate impact on all health issues in communities of color and that's because of access to health care as well as the stigma associated with HIV," said Paul Scott, the Executive Director with AIDS Services of Austin.

AIDS Services of Austin tests thousands of people every year for free. They also hand out between 50-60,000 packets containing condoms in the community each year.

AIDS Services of Austin offers free testing and help people who test positive find treatment. Go here for more information.

A growing number of people are being prescribed PREP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It's an anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected.

Two weeks ago, a new clinic opened in Austin to help people get PREP for free or for a reduced cost. Go here for more information.

Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department also offers free testing and help finding treatment.


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