Counties Lose Funding For HIV Prevention Program

by Jessica Cervantez

Stephanie Jones, a prevention specialist, has reached out to many people. For the most part, they have changed her life as much as she's changed theirs.

Her biggest concern is that she will no longer be able to help to the one county who has the highest rate of HIV infections in East Texas, Shelby County. Jones said, "We have reached a lot of people in that county. They need support and we will no longer be able to provide it for them."

LaRaye Bailey, a probation officer in Shelby County, said, "Shelby County will probably stay #1 for highest infections and will get worse if Health Horizons is pulled from us."

The Texas Department of Health wanted to ensure that the most effective programs receive the money. The good news is Nacogdoches, Angelina, and Jasper counties will continue to receive money. The bad news is Trinity, San Augustine and surrounding counties will not.

Although Health Horizons is disappointed about losing funding, they are pleased that case workers will continue to keep those patients that are HIV positive.

Director of Health Horizons Wilbert Brown said, "African Americans are the target group for us in the future."

Although several counties will be affected dramatically, experts say they will do their best with what they have. Counties that will no longer be served beginning January 1, 2003 include: Shelby, Polk, Trinity, Tyler, Houston, Newton, Sabine, San Augustine and San Jacinto County.