By Jen Kastner
PERMIAN BASIN- Physicians inside of Odessa's Medical Center Hospital have recently seen both good and bad trends in the Basin AIDS community. More people are coming forward to get tested and the drugs are getting better. Yet, unfortunately, they're taking in more patients.
"We're having an increasingly new number of infections, especially in the age group of 25 years old and below," Dr. Satish Mocherla, who works at Medical Center Hospital, said.
Dr. Mocherla has his theories as to why our young adults are getting the virus. To start, they weren't around in the 1980's to see the fear and devastation associated with AIDS, so to many of them, it's not all that serious. But beyond that, he and Renue Jones with Basin Assistance Services, believe that young people think they're invincible.
"You've got some [young adults] nowadays that say, 'Well, if I get it, they've got plenty of medicine out there for it,' but they don't realize the consequences and how [the virus is] a lifelong commitment," Jones said.
Basin Assistance Services is a branch of the Permian Basin Community Centers. This branch offers HIV and AIDS treatment and guidance to the local community. Like MCH, they too have seen more young people walking through their doors looking for help. However, for them, a different age group requires more of their attention.
"Our highest population for Basin Assistance Services is between 24-years-old and 44-years-old," Jones said.
According to their reports, from 2010 to 2011, they had 30 new HIV/AIDS intakes. However, from 2011 to 2012, they had 48 new HIV/AIDS intakes. Overall, their numbers are rising.
Doctors at MCH say they're also seeing a jump in AIDS cases amongst the senior citizen population. That could be because people with AIDS are living longer than ever before but it's also more than that.
"When you get into a particular age group you also tend to be less careful because you don't suspect that a person who is in their 60's or 70's could potentially be carrying the virus also," Dr. Mocherla said.