Thirty percent more Texans are living with HIV or AIDS than just five years ago. Monday marks the 20th year of World AIDS Day. In the Hub City, the number of those diagnosed with the life threatening disease is on the rise, which is costing you millions of tax dollars.
Each morning, a Lubbock man that we'll call Sam, goes to his kitchen cabinet above the stove. Sam asked that not show his face or share his name, but he did want to share his story.
Fifteen years ago, Sam had unprotected sex and eventually ended up in the hospital. "I ended up having PCP, which is Pneumocystis and that's how I found out," Sam said. "I have HIV," Sam added.
However, Sam is not alone. "In Lubbock we have seen a rise in HIV cases in the younger population between like 15 to 27 and even a rise in the older generation 65 and older," Leigh Arrington said.
Arrington is the Program Director of Project CHAMPS. The organization uses federal and state money to provide medical and social support for those with HIV and AIDS.
Arrington says the disease is costly, not just for those with it, but also to you the taxpayer. "The blood work, the laboratory work and any opportunist infections that come along with HIV and AIDS and treating those cost a lot of money. I think the average lifetime expense for treating someone with HIV is over $380,000" Arrington said.
That doesn't included medication. For Sam, that means 14 pills twice a day to help control the virus that causes AIDS. But, like all sexually transmitted diseases, this one is preventable.
Arrington says it ultimately comes down to abstinence, but protection and early detection may help stop the spread. "If they are positive to get hooked into services to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS," Arrington said. Sam added, "If you're going to have it, protect yourself."
Arrington adds, "Although HIV/AIDS can be spread through sexual contact, that is not the only mode of transmission. We have clients who contracted HIV by injection drug use, perinatal transmission or blood transfusions prior to blood being screened."
To learn more about Project CHAMPS call (806) 771-0736.
Several locations across the Hub City test for HIV and AIDS. Those include:
A Lubbock celebration of World AIDS Day will take place on Wednesday. The service starts at 7 p.m. at Metropolitan Community Church.