The City of Laredo Health Department’s HIV/AIDS Program is the lead agency in South Texas responsible for coordinating all HIV/AIDS related public health responses in Webb, Starr, Jim Hogg and Zapata Counties.
2600 Cedar Ave. / Laredo, Texas / 78041 / 956. 795.4905
The HIV/AIDS program provides the following services:
To provide and coordinate public health and community partner efforts to prevent new HIV infections, to promote awareness of infection among those at risk, to encourage and support on-going medical care and effective treatment for those infected, and to respond to community concerns and needs.
To develop, provide and promote comprehensive HIV awareness among the priority populations and other at-risk groups. This is accomplished through a community-based, culturally appropriate, and professional working relationship between staff and clients based on trust, confidentiality, and mutual respect.
As the leading advocate for community action against HIV/AIDS, the City of Laredo Health Department’s HIV/AIDS Program leads, strengthens, supports and expands responses to the epidemic that will:
Prevent the spread of HIV
Provide care and support to those affected and infected with the disease
Reduce the vulnerability of individuals in this community to HIV/AIDS
HIV Protocol Based Counseling
The Protocol Based Counseling (PBC) program, previously known as the Prevention Counseling Partner Elicitation program, was a pilot-program during fiscal year 2003-2004. The City of Laredo, amongst other four cities in Texas was selected to pilot the program. Beginning in January 2005, the program was renamed to PBC and mandated to become implemented throughout the State of Texas. The PBC evidence based intervention is an individualized, structured, client centered intervention that is offered either anonymously or confidentially, in which a protocol is used to guide the counselor to ask open-ended questions designed to help improve a client’s self-perception of risk and instill a commitment on behalf of the client to change behavior.
Three different types of HIV Tests are made available:
Standard HIV Test - consists of drawing blood from the person’s arm - confirms HIV (Results in two weeks)
Unigold Rapid Test – consists of a needle stick from the finger – (Results in 10 minutes)
Orasure Rapid Test – consists of getting a swab from the person’s mouth – (Results in 15 minutes)
Since its inception, the PBC Program has performed over 32,000 HIV antibody tests of which 427 tests were HIV positive. In addition to HIV screening and testing, the program also tests for syphilis and Hepatitis C.
The Program has been recognized at the state and national level for identifying, linking and enrolling HIV positive clients into early medical treatment. People who are infected must be diagnosed and placed on treatment early to receive the greatest benefit from drug therapy.
Free HIV, Syphilis, & Hepatitis C Testing
HIV community outreach
Comprehensive Risk Counseling Services (CRCS)
The CRCS program consists of individual counseling session(s) that are provided by the HIV Case Manager targeting Men who have sex with Men, Injecting Drug Users, and Heterosesuxals that are HIV positive or HIV negative with multiple risk factors. CRCS is an intervention that is:
Client-centered with the fundamental goal being the promotion, adoption and maintenance of HIV risk–reduction behaviors by clients with multiple, complex problems and risk-reduction needs.
An intensive individual-level intervention.
Intended for persons having or likely to have difficulty initiating or sustaining practice that reduce or prevent HIV acquisition or transmission.
The Community PROMISE program is an EBI that provides a community level intervention that will be delivered at an individual level in an attempt to modify attitudes and beliefs about HIV prevention methods among the community members by providing models of successful risk reduction strategies adopted by members of the target population. Community PROMISE staff and peer volunteers from each target community are trained to carry out the intervention by drawing attention to and reinforcing identification with and acceptance of the intervention messages. The intervention features role model stories developed from the real-life experiences of local community members. These stories depict members of the target population moving from earlier to later stages of change. The role model stories are featured in pamphlets and flyers distributed with condoms and bleach kits by the peer volunteers. This is designed to be carried out as a single session intervention and must remain true to the core elements. The core elements of the intervention consist of: (1) the use of printed role model stories tailored to the target group’s stage of change; (2) the delivery of materials/stories by members of the targeted at-risk community; and (3) the increase in availability of condoms and bleach kits. The goals of Community PROMISE are to (1) increase consistent condom use for anal and vaginal intercourse with main and non-main partners and (2) to increase disinfection of injecting equipment.
HIV community outreach
ALL PROGRAM SERVICES ARE CONFIDENTIAL AND FREE OF CHARGE
This program utilizes Ryan White Part B and State Services funds to help persons with HIV/AIDS infection. An important part of care and support is about responding to the needs of a person living with HIV/AIDS in a holistic (or “whole”) way. Eligibility - regardless of income, a person may be eligible to receive HIV Early Intervention services at the City of Laredo Health Department’s HIV/AIDS Program as long as they are HIV positive or have a diagnosis of AIDS. It involves a variety of information, resources and services to address a range of needs – not just medical needs. Services are provided by the HIV Medical Case Manager. Clients are assisted with:
The Ryan White Title IV Project is aimed at providing individual and family centered care to women, infants, children and youth in regards to their HIV health. Through case management services clients’ needs are assessed and appropriate linkages and referrals are made for:
Social service programs
Home visits to clients
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. It attacks the human immune system. Over time (and without effective treatment), HIV gradually destroys the body's defenses against disease, leaving it vulnerable to many infections and cancers that would not normally develop in healthy people.
Even without treatment, some people with HIV infection have no symptoms at all; some have mild health problems, while others have severe health problems associated with AIDS.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the late stage of HIV infection. By the time a diagnosis of AIDS is made, HIV will already have seriously damaged the body's immune system. Often, a person with an AIDS diagnosis will already have had a life-threatening infection or cancer.
Before the use of effective treatment, it commonly took 10 years or more from the time of initial HIV infection to a diagnosis of AIDS; and, on average, it would take another two to four years before death. However, new treatments are radically slowing the destruction of the immune system caused by HIV and lengthening life expectancy. Some people with HIV infection may never develop AIDS.
HIV is transmitted when infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk enter another person's body. This most often occurs during unprotected sex or during injection drug use (when needles or other drug paraphernalia (“cottons” or “cookers”) are shared). Anyone who is infected with HIV can transmit it, whether or not they appear sick, have an AIDS diagnosis, or are taking effective treatment for their infection. Infected women who become pregnant can transmit HIV to their newborns and are much more likely to do so if they are not treated effectively.
HIV is spread in the following ways:
Unprotected sexual intercourse.
Injection drug use.
From an infected mother to her infant.
HIV is not transmitted by:
There are several types of HIV antibody tests used today. All are highly accurate at detecting HIV antibodies, specific proteins made in response to an HIV infection. After infection with HIV, however, it can take up to 3 months for HIV antibodies to develop. The City of Laredo Health Department offers three different types of HIV testing to include confirmation of HIV.
Approximately 50-90% of people with new HIV infections have mild to severe "flu-like" symptoms approximately 2 weeks to 3 months after the HIV exposure. Some people do not have any symptoms. In general, symptoms are not a reliable indicator of HIV infection. Many people with HIV infection do not experience symptoms for many years after infection. Likewise, many people with the symptoms listed below do not have HIV infection. An HIV antibody test taken 3 months after a potential exposure can tell you if infection has occurred.
Many of the symptoms of HIV infection are the same as for other, less serious illnesses.
People who may have been exposed to HIV should see a doctor promptly if the following symptoms occur within 3 months of the exposure:
No, but, in recent years, medical providers have become much better at identifying, monitoring, and treating HIV infection and AIDS. In particular, drugs known as protease inhibitors -- when used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs -- may dramatically improve the health and quality of life for many people living with HIV/AIDS.
While there is not currently a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, there are many things that people infected with HIV can do to stay healthy and live longer. The first step for anyone who has HIV infection is to see a knowledgeable medical provider. This provider will be able to assess and monitor the infection, and, if appropriate, prescribe antiretroviral medicines.
The benefits of early diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS are important reasons for people at risk for HIV infection to learn their HIV antibody status through testing. For people not infected, but at increased risk of infection, it is important to get tested regularly (every 3-6 months) for HIV antibodies. One purpose of regular testing is to assure that those who are newly infected with HIV may be assessed and treated at the earliest possible opportunity. Another purpose is to minimize the chance of HIV transmission when people are newly infected and highly infectious.
DATES TO REMEMBER
r February 7- National Black HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day
r February “2nd Week” - National Condom Week
r March 10 – National Women/Girls Awareness Day
r June 27 - National HIV Testing Day
r October - National HIV/ AIDS Awareness Month
r November 28 - AIDS Memorial Quilt
r December 1st - World AIDS Day
r 1981: The CDC diagnosed the first cases of AIDS-related disease among young gay men known as GRID
(Gay Related Infection Disease).
r 1982: The CDC formally establishes the term “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
r 1985: The Food and Drug Administration approves the first HIV Antibody Test.
r 1987: The Food and Drug Administration approves the first antiretroviral medication, zidovudine (AZT) as
an AIDS treatment.
r 1991: Star Basketball player, Ervin “Magic” Johnson, announces that he is HIV positive.
r 1992: AIDS becomes the leading cause of death among men between ages 25 to 44.
r 1993: The Food and Drug Administration approves the female condom for sale in the U.S.
r 1996: The Food and Drug Administration approves the viral load test, which measures the amount of HIV
r 1997: AIDS related deaths in the U.S. decline by more than 40%, largely as a result of medications.
r 2000: President Clinton implements the Millennium Vaccine Initiative to develop a vaccine for HIV.
LOCAL HIV/AIDS FACTS
r 1985: The City of Laredo Health Department began providing HIV education and testing.
r 1985: The City of Laredo Health Department diagnosed the first case of HIV in Laredo.
r 1990: The City of Laredo Health Department began providing services to help treat HIV/AIDS.
r 2008: As of December 2007, the City of Laredo Health Department has tested 31,318 individuals for HIV
and 427 have tested HIV positive