SA sees slight drop in HIV infections

World AIDS Day is December 1. In San Antonio, there was a slight drop in HIV infections according to recent statistics from Texas Department of State Health Services. (Courtesy photo)

With World AIDS Day approaching on December 1, recent statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services show a slight drop in HIV infections in Bexar County.

In 2014, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 329 new cases of HIV infections reported in Bexar County. That is down from 375 new cases reported in 2013.

The new lower number represents an infection rate of 17.7 people with HIV for every 100,000 residents in Bexar County in 2014. The infection rate for 2013 was 20.6 people with HIV for every 100,000 residents.

According to the statistics, there were 5,477 people living with HIV in Bexar County in 2014.

Numbers are also down for reported cases of full-blown AIDS. In 2014, there were 135 new cases of AIDS reported in Bexar County, representing an infection rate of 7.5 cases of AIDS for every 100,000 county residents. In 2013, there were 162 cases of AIDS reported, which equaled an infection rate of 9.2 cases of AIDS for every 100,000 residents.

Statewide, new HIV diagnoses are highest among people between 20 and 29 years of age. The rate of HIV infection is highest among black and Hispanic residents. The HIV infection rate for blacks is 50.8 per 100,000 and for Hispanics it’s 15.8 per 100,000.

Gay and bisexual men represent the group with highest HIV infection rate, accounting for 70 percent of all new HIV infections and 57 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses across the state in 2014.

Gay and bisexual men also account for the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in Texas. According to the state’s latest STD Surveillance Report:

Persons living with HIV (PLWH) experience higher rates of STDs than the general population. The rate of STDs in Persons Living with HIV in Texas has increased over the past 10 years. It is difficult to know whether increases in rates are due to an increase in STD screening among PLWH (including increased extragenital testing in Men who have Sex with Men) or a true rise in incident cases . . .

In 2013, MSM comprised about 3% of the adult population in Texas. However, in the same year, Men who report having sexual contact with other Men comprised 65% of all persons diagnosed with Primary and Secondary Syphilis in Texas, and 53% of all persons diagnosed with Early Latent Syphilis.

In terms of HIV infection, health experts say testing is key to knowing your status and getting treatment if you test positive.

“The most important thing is that, you may be asymptomatic, get tested and know your status. That is very important because once you know your status, you can get treated and be fine. But, you don’t want to be untreated and pass the disease to others, and eventually get really, really sick,” Dr. Anil Mangla, assistant director for communicable diseases at Metro Health, told the San Antonio Express News last year.

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