HOUSTON, TX. - The latest numbers from the CDC on HIV in the USA are both encouraging and alarming. New diagnoses in the U.S. fell by nearly 20% over the past 10 years. That’s great progress says Aids Foundation Houston’s C.E.O., Kelly Young.
“We should feel very good about that progress... but I would like to see that number doubled, then we would actually be closer to transforming HIV/AIDS in our community where we`re not spreading the virus at all,” says Young.
What`s alarming is the spike in new infections over the same period among young gay and bisexual males in the Latino and African-American communities.
These groups saw a nearly 87% increase in HIV diagnoses.
“It`s not uncommon for people of color not to access healthcare on a regular basis, it's not uncommon for that age group, 15 - 24, they tend to think of themselves as invincible and nothing will happen to them,” explained Young.
The CDC wants to spread the word that lots of people are walking around unaware they have HIV, (one in eight of those infected) so they mapped it out.
Here in the south, only 77% to 84% know they’re infected. Texas came in 45th.
Kelly comments that, “The south in general has this problem, it is the epicenter of all new infections. We had 1200 new infections in 2013, where as there was less than 400 in San Francisco.”
Progress in treating HIV has advanced. In fact more people than ever live with the virus, rather than die from it. Still the stigma exists.
That`s one huge reason for the lack of testing, and lack of awareness.
“We should be compassionate, empathetic and caring to those individuals. Not shaming, judging and blaming those individuals,” says Young.
Knowing you're infected is the first step, and taking precautions to prevent new infections is the next, on the path to greater progress in the fight against HIV.