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Legacy Community Health Releases First-Ever Roadmap to Ending HIV in Houston
Reports calls for a new urgency by healthcare providers, policymakers, the public
HOUSTON – Ahead of World AIDS Day on Thursday, Legacy Community Health released a citywide roadmap for ending the HIV epidemic in the Houston area, which has the highest rate of the virus statewide. One in 200 Houstonians are living with it, according to the local health department. While other major cities from New York to San Francisco have implemented their own HIV eradication plans, Houston is the first in Texas to undertake such an initiative. The goal of the initiative is to cut all new HIV cases in half over five years.
“We hope the roadmap renews a sense of urgency and action around the epidemic levels of HIV in Houston,” said Venita Ray, public policy manager at Legacy Community Health. “The scientific inroads in recent years have been significant but not enough to win the fight. It’s time Houston’s strategy integrate the science with the broader socio-political factors at play here, like poverty, racism, stigma, machismo, lack of insurance and inadequate education levels. The climate in which people live helps explain why certain neighborhoods are more vulnerable to HIV.”
The most recent data from the Houston Health Department show 22,500 Houstonians are living with HIV. The African-American, Latino, and LGBT communities are hit the hardest. The group with the highest rate of HIV is young men ages 15-24.
The report, “Roadmap to Ending HIV in Houston,” provides both visionary and concrete steps that health care providers, policy makers, and the public can take toward reducing new cases from 1,200 to 600 per year. It outlines more than 30 recommendations for treatment and prevention, including:
- Practicing greater cultural awareness inside health facilities
- Conducting robust faith-based outreach to pastors and congregations
- Implementing women-centered models of care
- Developing a “health is wealth” initiative to increase health literacy
- Launching targeted anti-stigma marketing campaigns
- Increasing HIV testing
- Expanding the market for the daily medication (PrEP) that is more than 90% effective in preventing HIV.
An executive summary and full report be found at endHIVHouston.org.
Thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation and AIDS United, Legacy spearheaded the development of the plan alongside 50 community leaders earlier this year. Legacy was a first responder to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and has since become one of the largest community health centers in the nation providing primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN and behavioral health.
Legacy Community Health, a not-for-profit Federally Qualified Health Center, provides adult primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN and maternity, HIV/AIDS care, dental, vision and behavioral health to more than 100,000 patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Legacy is a United Way of Greater Houston agency.