SAN ANGELO, Texas – December 1, 2020 is World AIDS Day. This day raises awareness about AIDS and HIV.
“Talking about it, it takes away that stigma,” Lanie Rogers-Burleson, LGBT+ Services Advocate at Open Arms said.
According to HIV.gov, HIV is spread through bodily fluids and breastfeeding.
“It’s interesting to note that 23 percent of new cases are actually women. So the more you’re educated, the more you know, prevention is the key, there’s also many things we can do to treat it. So don’t be afraid to go to the clinic, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about it,” Rogers-Burleson said.
HIV is a virus that attacks cells in the body that help fight infection. This attack on those cells makes a person more vulnerable to other diseases and illnesses.
HIV can lead to AIDS, which is when a persons’ immune system is badly damaged because of HIV.
“There actually is a pretty decent number of people living in San Angelo with HIV or AIDS, and the beautiful thing about where we are now is that it’s no longer a death sentence, it’s something you no longer have to dread,” Rogers-Burleson said.
The first step is getting tested, however, the pandemic has impacted the accessibility of testing centers.
“On a normal basis, pre-COVID, if you needed to get testing done, you could go to the Health Department or La Esperanza they both offer it however, right now because of COVID they are not doing any testing,” Rogers-Burleson said.
There are some websites that offer free at home testing kits. Once you get the results, treatment is next.
“If you have been tested and you do test positive you can actually go to Shannon Supportive Health. If you’re under insured or you don’t have insurance at all they will set you up with case management,” Rogers-Burleson said.
This program helps patients with everything from specialized medical care to housing. This program covers 13 counties. Those counties include Coke, Concho, Crockett, Irion, Kimble, McCulloch, Mason, Menard, Regan, Schleicher, Sterling, Sutton and Tom Green.