By Alicia Neaves
PERMIAN BASIN - Tuesday was the four-year mark of the release of the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS stragegy by President Obama. It's goal is to decrease the number of cases nationwide and to improve the health for people already living with the disease. NewsWest 9 takes a look at the differences seen in West Texas.
West Texas makes up less than one percent of HIV/AIDS cases for the entire state, a 10-case improvement from the previous year.
"With an increase in population here in the Permian Basin, we have more people that want to be tested," Celestino Garcia, P.S., Health Manager of Midland Health Department, said.
Statistics released by the Texas Department of State Health Services show West Texas had 48 cases of HIV and AIDS in the entire region from January to September of last year. That's ten less than the previous year.
Andrews, Borden, Brewster, Coke, Crane, Culberson, Fisher, Gaines, Irion, Jeff Davis, Mitchell, Nolan, Reagan, Scurry, Sterling, Terrell, Upton, Ward, Winkler and Yoakum represent those with zero cases.
Midland and Ector Counties top the list with those with reported HIV and AIDS cases. Midland County has 11, Ector County has 10. Both are actually up from the previous year. Howard County has six cases, Glasscock and Presidio Counties have three reported cases, Pecos and Reeves Counties have two, and Dawson and Martin Counties have one.
In part of President Obama's National HIV/AIDS Strategy, Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that $11 million is available in funding to enhance community health centers' efforts in communities highly impacted by HIV.
The goals of this strategy are to reduce new HIV infections and increase access to care and improve the health of those living with HIV.
Results show that now more people know their HIV status and there are less infections reported in some populations, like black women and injection drug users. Affordable health coverage and special housing for HIV patients has also been implemented.
Locally, the Midland Health Department is reaching out.
"We provide HIV testing and STD testing Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 1 o'clock," Garcia said.
They provide the affordable care, easy accessibility and test results back within 10 days.
"We'll give the results to our citizens and we'll point them in the right direction if they need some extra help," Garcia said.