New Organization Hopes to Raise STD and AIDS Awareness

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND--Texas ranks fourth in Nation when it comes to HIV and AIDS cases.  The numbers are growing right here in the Permian Basin as well.  That increase also includes sexually transmitted diseases, but a new organization is helping increase awareness and provide help.

"It doesn't matter what's going on in Dallas.  It doesn't matter what's going on in Houston.  We have a problem right here that we need to be able to address," Marc Slattery with the Momotati Project, said.

Slattery is making it his misison to get the word out about the growing numbers of HIV and STD's, not just across Texas, but right here in our own back yard, "Right here is an underserved area in Midland.  What we're going to try and do here, is open it up and let anybody talk about anything pertaining to HIV and STD's."

According to the Department of State Health Services, the numbers are astounding.   In 2008, there were almost 1700 cases of Chlamydia, over 500 cases of Gonorrhea, and 25 cases of HIV in the Permian Basin. We've already seen those numbers just six months into 2009.

That's why Slattery is taking his message out to the community, but he says he isn't always met with a warm reception, "Marc, that's not one of the things we talk about in our community.  We'll you better start. All STD's if you look at the numbers that continue to come up."

Organizations like the MLK Center in Midland are donating time and space so the Momotati Project can help increase the awareness about HIV and STD's.

"We'll actually be hosting our first meeting here at the MLK Center on the 18th which is Tuesday of next week.  It's for anybody that's got HIV concerns, their families, the general public is invited to come, as long as confidentiality is kept," Slattery explained.

Slattery chose the MLK because of it's location. Hispanics and African Americans have the highest percentages when it comes to the most recent incidents of HIV and STD cases.  The main focus will be increasing awareness and educating everyone.

According to Slattery, "If we can save one person, then everything that we're building here and everything we're trying to do, we've succeeded."