Prostitution is a Problem in Trinity

Last fall, we rode along the streets of Trinity with Chief Deputy James Gratz. He showed us how the problem of prostitution is impacting the small town. Crime, violence, drug use, and the spread of disease are some of the long-lasting affects of the sex trade. But Trinity Police Chief Lynn Gentry said he only knows of three women here who are selling sex.

"There's a lot of misconceptions about prostitution," said Chief Gentry. "In the city of Trinity, we don't have people standing on the side of the road prostituting or trying to flag down people to trade sex for money. What we have found in the areas of the community where drugs are prevalent, there are young ladies that do trade themselves for drugs."

Sexually transmitted diseases and the sex trade go hand in hand, but some of the problems in Trinity related to prostitution and illegal drug use have subsided.

Charlie O'Brien, Regional HIV/STD Program Manager for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said, "In 2005 and early 2006, we didn't have a lot of new cases of HIV or AIDS in Trinity County. For a size city that Trinity is, we had 12 cases of primary and secondary syphilis for 2005, which is a rate of like 56 percent per every 100,000 people, so it's above 50 percent. That's a little more significant."

It's especially significant because women who do not know they have syphilis can pass it on to their unborn children. Syphilis can cause serious health problems in kids, even death if left untreated.

At one point, state health care workers were making at least three trips to Trinity every month, passing out medication to people with sexually transmitted diseases.

Public health care workers said prevention efforts in Trinity have been very effective over the past year. An HIV contractor with Health Horizons regularly provides free HIV and syphilis testing in Trinity. Anyone who tests positive for those infections is linked to local health care services.