More people are living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Travis County.
Between 2006 and 2012, the number of people with HIV has increased 41 percent -- to 5,084 people. During those years, the overall population of Travis County increased only by about 17 percent.
Dr. Phillip Huang, Medical Director of Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services, says much of the increase is because of life-sustaining HIV drugs.
“A lot of that is due to the successes in terms of the treatments in that people are living longer with HIV and AIDS," Dr. Huang says. "And so over time then we have more and more people who are living with HIV and AIDS.”
But, Huang says, the downside is that because people are not hearing as much about people dying from HIV and AIDS, they may be engaging in riskier behavior.
“We’re concerned that there is some complacency out there," Dr. Huang says. "People aren’t as concerned about it as they have been in the past, so that even many people that have risky behaviors aren’t practicing safe sex or doing some of the other preventive types of things as they used to.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control offers these recommendations to prevent HIV:
- If you are sexually active, limit your number of sexual partners.
- Use condoms correctly and consistently.
- If you use IV drugs, do not share needles.
- Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and insist your partner gets tested.
- Get tested for HIV.
Health officials recommend that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV. People at higher risk should get tested annually. It's estimated that 1,100 people in Travis County are unaware that they are HIV positive.
The Austin/Travis County Health Department offers free and low-cost HIV testing. To schedule a screening, contact the HIV Prevention Program at 512-972-5580 or the STI Clinic at 512-972-5430
More information is available here.