HIV in River Oaks, Piney Point and the Heights

People living with HIV by zip code in Houston/Harris County (2013)

By James Lee

At first glance, Houston’s HIV zip code map is a shocker. But what some may find more surprising is the high rate of HIV in some of Houston’s most affluent communities: River Oaks, Piney Point and the Heights. The reality is HIV doesn’t discriminate based on race, age, sexual orientation or income.

Take Martha Warriner Jarrett, for example — an educated, straight white woman in her seventies who is living with HIV. In a blog, Jarret explains that she earned degrees from both Southern Methodist University and Loyola School of Law before beginning a 40-year-long career as a Los Angeles attorney. After retiring, and just before her 70th birthday, Martha was rushed to the hospital for acute respiratory failure and high blood pressure. After several days in intensive care, she discovered she had AIDS.

While her story may seem shocking, Martha isn’t alone.

Although statistics show gay men, African-Americans and Hispanics are more vulnerable to HIV, the fact  is anyone who has unprotected sex or shares needles is at risk. And Houston’s HIV prevalence map is proof of that. That’s why all of us need to come together, to solve this issue as Houstonians. Educate yourself and then join the conversation — start talking about HIV. We can end this epidemic in this city, if we work together.