|Vol. 25, No. 10||June 1, 2003|
Male AIDS Population Rising
By OSJETTA GASCEY
Harris County Hospital District
AIDS is still the leading cause of death among U.S. men. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the easiest preventable diseases, but many men fail to take precautions or get tested, and often postpone seeking medical help when they are sick.
Armed with the tools to fight this deadly disease, Thomas Street Clinic, part of the Harris County Hospital District, is raising awareness of HIV/AIDS cases among men.
“Lack of awareness and poor health education contribute to the growing crisis in men’s health,” said Jeff Benavides, HIV/health educator at the clinic. “To prevent this, health education and HIV awareness are key.”
In recognition of National HIV Testing Day June 27, Thomas Street Clinic will offer free HIV testing along with several hospital district facilities including Settegast, Casa De Amigos and Northwest health centers, and Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital.
“We have noticed a rise in the male AIDS population over the past three years, particularly in African-American men,” Benavides said. “As a result, we have made stronger efforts to offer free testing with very little hassle, and to make ourselves more visible in the community.”
In addition to offering outpatient medical care for HIV/AIDS patients, Thomas Street Clinic offers outreach education, and its staff participates in community health fairs throughout Harris County.
Although reported HIV/AIDS cases in women are rising, the World Health Organization says men still account for the largest number of HIV/AIDS cases nationwide.
Last August, the hospital district reported 1,156 HIV cases. Of those, 64 percent were men. In January, the hospital district reported 1,302 HIV cases again, 64 percent were men.
Statistics show that of 6,178 men who have AIDS and are being treated by the hospital district, 42 percent are African-American, 38 percent are white and 20 percent are Hispanic.
Last year, the hospital district and the Houston Department of Health and Human Services partnered to kick off an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign among young African-Americans. The joint effort put a face on the disease through a series of radio, television, and newspaper advertisements.
Benavides suggests that sexually active men get tested at least once a year. He also encourages the use of prevention methods like abstinence, monogamy, “knowing your partner” and the proper use of condoms.
“Recognizing men’s health in June helps focus awareness not only on HIV/AIDS, but also on other sexually transmitted diseases,” he added.
©2006 Texas Medical Center