The Examiner August 2, 2012 — It could be your mother, brother, sister, neighbor or child – it’s the face of HIV/AIDS, and statistics show America’s saturation of persons living with the virus is on par with that of Third-World nations such as Uganda and Zimbabwe, somewhere around 1.2 million.

Alarming still for Southeast Texans is that the concentration is greater along coastal America, with southern states accounting for nearly half of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses annually, according to the Center for Disease Control. In Texas alone, more than 4,000 new diagnoses have been added every year for the last decade.

Beaumont, the 25th largest city in Texas, had the seventh highest number of new HIV/AIDS infections diagnosed in the state for 2011. Just an hour away in Houston, HIV/AIDS infection cases are skyrocketing, with more than 1,300 added in the first nine months of 2011. Barring a cure in the near future, Triangle AIDS Network (TAN) prevention specialist Lois Roy only sees those numbers gaining momentum in the years to come.

“The numbers are staggering,” Roy said, looking over Texas Department of Health reports covering HIV/AIDS in Jefferson County. “A lot of people don’t know a lot about HIV – or are not willing to learn. Everybody wants to have sex, but nobody wants to talk about sex. That’s why we’re adding new HIV/AIDS patients at a staggering rate.”

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