No Money for HIV Education

by Jacqueline Sit
NewsWest 9

Disappointed and upset, just some of the words the people who were part of the HIV Education Department said about their program being cut mainly because they're worried the rate of HIV cases could grow.

"It devastated me because we provide services for Ector County for 23 years and when you provide it that long it becomes like a child in the family and it's like losing one of your children," Gino Solla, Director of Ector County Health Department, said.

A devastation that hits home for Director Gino Solla at the Ector County Health Department.  The federal funding used on educating and reaching out to the public on the ever growing HIV pandemic is now coming to an end.

That's because the competitive grant will be given to the Permian Basin Community Center in Midland.

"They're allocating I feel to the more metropolitan areas because they seem to think the concentration is not great out here in the rural area, so they're giving it to Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth the larger areas but we still have a need," Solla said.

Not only is their 23 year long program coming to a halt, they're losing three jobs from the HIV Education Department, a program that helped men and women with alcohol and drug abuse counseling at the Clover House for over two decades.

"They'll be informed as always and if they need further counseling with any issue, it's their responsibility to contact health dept and get whatever need they have taken care of," Joy Norton with the Clover House, Inc., said.

Clover House's Joy Norton was surprised to hear about the program getting the boot and now they'll have to resort back to their already short staff to spreading the word.

"They'll still get what they need but it will be less convenient for us and it puts the strain on our staff but we can pick it up," Norton said.

The Ector County Health Department still provides HIV testing.  For now, the only place in Odessa that provides that type of education is the Planned Parenthood.