Feb. 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/07/06 - East Texas

Feb. 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

by Ramonica R. Jones

African-Americans account for about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but nearly 38 percent of all reported AIDS cases. Health Horizons of East Texas tested 889 blacks for HIV last year. Five of those clients tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. Most of the patients tested were between the ages of 25 and 44.

Annette Jones of Health Horizons said, "It's better to have awareness of HIV, that way we can go out and test and know whether we're positive, so we can seek the proper treatment that we need."

Blacks are diagnosed with more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. Many African-Americans don't take the test because they're afraid of rejection from friends and family if they are positive. Many blacks also believe they can't afford treatment for HIV.

"Once they find out that they are positive, immediately, we turn them over to case management - refer them out to the proper clinics and do the proper forms for them - and at that point, they will assess them and then give them the proper care that they need."

Health Horizons treated 306 HIV/AIDS patients last year. More than half those clients were black.

Black women are being infected with HIV 21 times the rate of white women. The infection rate for black men is seven times that of white men.

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