GCHD highlights free testing, prevention efforts during National STD Awareness Month
Of the 254 counties in Texas, Galveston County ranks 11th when it comes to the number of people living with HIV, listed at 970 in the Texas 2016 HIV Surveillance Report.
The report, published by the Texas Department of State Health Services, includes information on HIV infection, AIDS and people living with HIV cases diagnosed Dec. 31, 2016-June 30, 2017. The number of people living with HIV includes records through Dec. 31, 2016.
Galveston County Health District (GCHD) recognizes National STD Awareness Month – celebrated in April – as an opportunity to highlight testing and prevention options available through its STD-HIV Services division.
“It is important to know your HIV status,” said Eugenia James, GCHD HIV/ AIDS program manager. “When someone is diagnosed, they can then manage the virus with early intervention and treatment.”
The GCHD HIV-STD Services division protects the health and well-being of the community by educating the public through presentations, health fairs and community events. Staff also investigates STDs and assists individuals in obtaining diagnostic and treatment services, as well as locating and contacting sexual partners of people who have tested positive for HIV/STD.
GCHD’s program also provides outreach services to residents in Brazoria and Chambers counties. Efforts can continue for the partners of partners. Staff also conducts outreach activities including HIV testing parties and condom distribution.
The Texas 2016 HIV Surveillance Report also shows there were 45 HIV and 19 AIDS diagnoses in Galveston County during the Dec. 31, 2016-June 30, 2017 reporting timeframe. Galveston County ranks 12th and 13th in HIV and AIDS diagnoses, respectively, out of the state’s 254 counties. The county reported 1,566 cumulative HIV diagnoses, which accounts for all cases in the county, living or deceased, at HIV or AIDS diagnosis through Dec. 31, 2016.
Free HIV and syphilis testing, condoms and education are available daily through GCHD to any county resident by appointment. All services are private, confidential and free, and can be scheduled by calling 409-465-2528. In 2017, the division distributed 17,424 condoms and conducted 1,090 HIV/ syphilis tests.
“Depending on the type of STD, treatment is available,” James said. “Many can be cured. In some instances, the infection can be controlled, but not cured. It is very important for all infected or exposed sexual partners to be treated before resuming sexual relations.”