Dallas Morning News Examines Experiences of HIV-Positive Residents in Rural North Texas, Where Stigma of AIDS ‘More Acute’
The Dallas Morning News on Saturday examined the experiences of HIV-positive residents in rural North Texas, where attitudes about HIV/AIDS "are a decade behind places where more cases have been seen." Many HIV-positive people in the region have kept their status a secret from their families and friends out of fear of discrimination, and they say that "a lack of education about the disease and a lack of experience with patients" are responsible for the "more acute" stigma in rural areas, according to the Morning News. The number of HIV/AIDS cases in rural and suburban North Texas is rising, with the number of new cases in some areas more than doubling between 2000 and 2003. However, the actual number of new cases is difficult to estimate because many people do not undergo HIV testing, according to Jennifer Kates, a vice president and director of HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, a lack of education and access to testing and treatment in rural areas might contribute to the rising numbers. "Those are all factors that go into potentially putting people at risk," Kates said, adding, "They don't feel they're at risk; there's not as much information targeting them; they don't know necessarily where to get information about the epidemic or how to protect themselves." However, AIDS Services of North Texas, which covers five counties north and east of Dallas, provides nearly 500 residents with medical treatment, low-cost housing, food and other benefits. Ron Aldridge, who heads the center, said, "This agency -- we literally save lives. That's pretty powerful" (Whitley, Dallas Morning News, 5/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.