World Aids Day in Amarillo

Dozens in Amarillo took time out of their day Saturday to recognize World AIDS day. At St. Andrews Episcopal Chapel, the sounds of piano filled the air.

People gathered to remember those who have died from AIDS, and to highlight how the disease is affecting people in our community.

Locally, the Panhandle has a low number of HIV cases compared to other regions in Texas. But medical providers say that doesn't mean people should let their guard down.

"The trend here is like it is nationally, that more women, especially African American and Hispanic women are becoming HIV infected," said Arlene Hudson, M.D.  Hudson works with HIV/AIDS patients in the region.

The latest numbers show 21 new cases of HIV or AIDS in the Panhandle this year. Compared that to 50 cases reported last year.

In Potter and Randall counties the total number of people living with the disease is about 330.

"Amarillo is actually somewhat low, compared to nationally but we actually had a huge epidemic of Syphillus, and so the people in Austin are lookign at us quite aggressively here in the Panhandle, because they usually go together," said Hudson.

Hudson says she believes the numbers are low partly because people are not getting tested.  Michael Timcisko with the Panhandle AIDS Support Organization, or PASO, says his client load hasn't changed much over the last few years.

"It's good that they're (the numbers) are not going up.  It's bad they're not going down. And what's sad about it is we always have someone that can replace someone that has moved on. So infections are still occuring," said Timcisko.

Doctor Hudson says patients can now live with HIV for up to 35 years, because of a dramatic improvement in medication.