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January 8, 2008

HIV in Texas Border Communities

New HIV/AIDS data released by the Texas Department of State Health Services shows a growing epidemic in Cameron County, the state’s southern-most county, which borders Mexico, according to the Brownsville Herald (brownsvilleherald.com, 1/5).

The newspaper claims that the county had 742 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS at the end of 2006. The data from the health department also shows that Hispanics in the county were six times more likely than members of other ethnic groups to be HIV positive. The newspaper reports that social stigmas surrounding homosexuality and hesitancy to talk openly about sex in schools, as well as the transient nature of border communities, might all play a role in the high HIV rates.

Farmworker Justice, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, recently examined border communities in Texas and found high levels of risky sexual behavior, such as sex with multiple partners, sex without condoms, or sex with sex workers. “Given the prevalence of those kinds of behaviors, we may be at the cusp of an epidemic,” said Shelly Davis, the organization’s deputy director.


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