AIDS/ HIV Cases Increase in the Brazos Valley

By: Amanda O'Neal
By: Amanda O'Neal

The week of June 5th marks the 25th anniversary of the first documented AIDS case. The number of reported cases is increasing in the Brazos Valley.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 9,000 people die every day from AIDS. If you think it's not a problem in our area, think again.

AIDS Services of the Brazos Valley says more people in the area are testing positive for HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.

“There can be that attitude that it won't affect us here and that could be very dangerous," said Chad Van Brunt with AIDS Services.

Last year there were about 20 reported cases of HIV or AIDS in the Brazos Valley. So far this year it's already up to 26.

Derek Gentry is in charge of prevention measures for AIDS Services.

“My main objective and focus is to get the information about HIV out here in the community as far as awareness and testing," said Gentry.

Dr. Ciro Sumaya, Dean of Texas A&M's School of Rural Public Health, agrees with Gentry. He was an AIDS researcher when the disease was first discovered in the early eighties.

"There's been significant progress and advancements. The virus was actually found very quickly after the disease was identified. The blood test to detect those who carried the virus was found very quickly. Different medications have now been developed," said Dr. Sumaya.

Helping lead prevention efforts are two graduates of the School of Rural Public Health who are in charge of HIV planning for the Brazos Valley and several other counties in Central Texas.

Researches say until they're able to find a cure for AIDS, a combination of prevention and therapy is key.

AIDS Services will host a fundraiser called the Red Ribbon Festival on June 23 at Revolution in down town Bryan. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. All proceeds will go to AIDS Services. For more information call 260- 2437.

Free HIV and syphilis testing is available at the Bryan-College Station Health Center at 3370 S. Texas Avenue in Bryan. For more information call 595-1726.


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