The signs have been taken down, the flyers and free condoms available, but not out in the open, World AIDS Day is over.
"There are around 530 people in Lubbock with HIV or AIDS," said Chris Spence, Risk Reduction Specialist at SPARC. World AIDS Day may be done, but the numbers of tragedies don't go away, and in the wake of Monday's awareness, disturbing news of a predator spreading the disease.
"We have teenagers that are positive but people don't want to hear that," said Spence. According to sources at the South Plains AIDS Resource Center, a Lubbock man in his early 20's is willfully and knowingly spreading the AIDS virus. Consensual sex, unsuspecting partners, deadly ramifications. In the past year, three Lubbock teenagers have had their HIV tests turn up positive with the common thread amongst them being sex with the infected man.
"I've never heard of a call or a report being made in Lubbock of someone willfully transmitting the AIDS virus to another person," said Sgt. Tony Gribben of the Lubbock Police Department. With no state laws prohibiting the practice, local authorities say it's a gray area. "I believe we would write up a crime report, more than likely be titled aggravated assault since HIV/AIDS can cause death, and we would take that information, research it like we would any other criminal case, and take our finding to the district attorney," said Gribben.
But indictments, of course, won't stop the spread of AIDS. To slow it down there's the often touted Lubbock mantra of abstinence, or, what many perceive as the more realistic avenue, protection. But even that road is fraught with pitfalls. While visiting Raff and Hall drug store off I-27 to shoot footage of condoms we noticed peculiar looking boxes on the bottom shelf - and for good reason - they were manufactured 20 years ago.
Store owners declined to comment on camera, at first saying latex had no expiration date. But there on the side of a new box of Trojans, an expiration date of three years. The date on the box of Ramses we purchased - September 23, 1983.
Store owners have since promised to remove the old condoms. The lesson? Watch out for yourself every step of the way. "It's always good to get tested. If you've ever had sex, ever done drugs, it's always better to know," said Spence.
AIDS testing at SPARC is confidential and anonymous. To set up an appointment call (806) 765-0444.