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Battling HIV in the Coastal Bend, resources residents can use to stay healthy

Community Mobilization Specialist, AJ Benavides said that tackling the stigma around HIV is one of many problems in the Coastal Bend.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — According to the CDC, HIV disproportionately affects Latino communities in the US, and it's something being seen right here in the Coastal Bend.

 “About 42 people each year are being diagnosed with HIV in the Corpus Christi area,” said Michele Durham with the Corpus Christi Care Center.

That number may not sound high, but Durham said that’s 42 too many.

“We know how HIV is contracted there’s no reason that in today’s time we shouldn’t be able to do better than that,” Durham said. 

Additionally, Durham said that not just the Hispanic population, but people of color across the board are heavily impacted.

“Including African Americans, Asian populations are disproportionately receiving information, education, and participating in what we call prep uptake,” Durham said.

This issue is something the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation is seeing reflected right here in our community.

Community Mobilization Specialist, AJ Benavides said that tackling the stigma around HIV is one of many problems in the Coastal Bend.

“It’s 2021 but we’re still seeing a lot of that stigma especially with the minority populations here about HIV,” Benavides said.

Both organizations are working together to break barriers and provide residents with important information.

“With so many of our staff having similar experiences and backgrounds of the persons that we are focusing on, populations of color, it makes a difference because now often times we speak the same language, we can build better rapport and trust and that means more access to your point,” Durham said.

Additionally, Benavides wants community residents to know that there are resources and assistance available.

“It can be a bit of a stigmatizing scary place and we want the community to know, the latinx LGBTQ community to know that we have your back,” Benavides said.

According to Durham the center offers testing and treatment for many different viruses.

“We offer outreach and testing for HIV, STI’S, Hepatitis, we offer the treatment for those STI’S and HIV,” Durham said.