While Dallas has come a long way in how they treat people with AIDS, the fight against the disease is still far from over. And, Dallas should follow the example of another Texas city – Austin – which became the second city in the state to implement the Fast Track initiative.
Fast Track is working to prevent, diagnosed and destigmatize HIV by the year 2030. To date, there have been around 90 cities throughout the world that have signed up.
People with HIV have more hope than ever. Antiretroviral drugs can keep the virus from becoming full-blown AIDS. PrEP is a daily pill that can lower the risk of contracting HIV from sexual contact by over 80 percent. And, the life expectancy for those who have HIV is similar to people who don’t have HIV.
Despite the most effective tools, there are systemic barriers keeping people from getting the care they need. Some barriers even keep them from getting a diagnosis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2017 report made Texas its case study. It found that over half of those that didn’t know they were infected lived in the southern states, with discrimination and fear about the disease highly prevalent.
State officials believe there are over 18,000 Texans who have HIV but don’t know they have it.
Dallas constantly remains high on the list for metropolitans with a high HIV and AIDS infection rate. According to 2016 data, the city had a 31.7 per 100,000 people rate of HIV diagnosis. According to experts, the rising number of infections is taking place in neighbors south of the downtown area.
On top of that, a report recently released showed that Dallas County has mismanaged its HIV/AIDS funding program. Therefore, if it joined the Fast Track initiative, it could bring light back to the issue and help the city implements goals it could meet by 2030.
With the Fast Track program, it would help eliminate the stigma tied to HIV/AIDS. It would also create a supportive environment for those who have the disease and their loved ones and co-workers.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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