Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dallas Morning News: Public Health Officials Must Take Steps to Curb HIV

Thank you Dallas Morning News Editorial Columnist James Ragland for highlighting the harrowing statistics on HIV in Dallas. The disease is spinning out of control:
"Dallas County had the state's highest HIV rate in 2006 and 2007. More than 13,500 folks are living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas, a 35 percent increase in the last five years, according to a report by the county's Health and Human Services Department.

"The black community is really feeling the brunt of careless lifestyle choices: Black residents make up just 20 percent of the county's population, but they represented a whopping 46 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2007.

"Worse still, the infection rate among 13- to 24-year-olds nearly tripled over the last five years. That's a group we can least afford to have succumbing to a virulent disease, particularly when you consider the mounting costs of HIV care. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars a year, most of which is coming out of the federal till."

He points out that, whatever our value system, public health officials must take advantage of simple prevention tools to stop the spread of the deadly infectious disease - especially when saving lives costs pennies:

"Make no mistake, my conservative religious cohorts are right on the mark when they argue that our fundamental challenge still is in overhauling the value systems of those who willingly or unwittingly put themselves in harm's way by sleeping around or sharing needles.

"But changing deep-rooted behaviors – an ongoing, epic battle whose end is nowhere in sight – is only part of the solution to this health crisis.

"It's also vitally incumbent upon public-health officials to do everything they can to control and curb a disease that poses a very tangible threat"

Visit this site for the latest, and sign up for free email updates, on what the Texas legislature is doing to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

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