These increases in cases cost tax payers as well as private health insurance pools. Mr. Owens discussed the cost of these services to taxpayers:
"Intravenous methamphetamine abuse in rural areas, which exploded 10 to 12 years ago, can account for new cases, Owens said.
"'A lot of people are now coming in with HIV and hepatitis C,' he said, saying that in his earlier career in rural health in Ballinger he was surprised by the prevalence of such drugs in rural communities."
The current version of SB188 only allows local options for disease prevention in Texas counties with over 300,000 residents. Abeline is in Taylor County, a county with 126,555 residents, so the bill will not allow Abeline to choose to prevent these diseases using proven syringe exchange programs.
"The gains that have come do come at a cost, he said, with treatments costing a minimum of $1,400 a month.
"But the majority of patients ARRT sees get their medications through the state- and federally-funded Texas HIV Medication Program, paying only a $5 co-pay."
In its current form, SB188 will only allow the local option in 12 Texas counties: Bexar, Cameron, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Fort Bend, Harris, Hidalgo, Nueces, Tarrant and Travis.
Learn more about HIV in rural Texas here and here.