By Ayesha Hana Shaji
Texas Metro News Team
In 2020, Dallas County had one of the highest rates of people living with HIV in the country, with over 19,400 residents, according to AIDSVu.
Today the county received additional resources in the form of a $17,085,614 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presented by Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett (D-TX).
“Dallas County’s Health and Human Services Department, specifically, its Ryan White HIV/ AIDS program was awarded over $17 million in federal funding for their work in combating and addressing the HIV crisis across our county,” said Crockett, as she emphasized the need for de-stigmatizing the virus and providing smart, strategic solutions.
Crockett shared that Dallas County reported 884 positive diagnoses for every 100,000 residents, compared to the national rate of 382 for every 100,000 Americans.
Crockett urged the Appropriations Committee to provide additional funding for the cause, including $487 million for the national Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, and other initiatives. “There’s got to be more money,” she said, during the check presentation at Dallas County’s Health and Human Services Department headquarters.
According to the congresswoman, The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program provides medications, medical services, essential coverage and completion services to those disproportionately impacted by HIV, which largely make up minorities and those uninsured neighbors across the county.
Crockett also highlighted the unacceptable disparities that exist, with African Americans accounting for 40% of new HIV diagnoses and the Latino community accounting for 25%.
“I’m proud to have supported and submitted an appropriations request that will provide adequate funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative,” Crockett said. “Those requests only represent a small glimpse of the work that my office has and will continue doing and bringing a strong advocate for our neighbors impacted by HIV and AIDS.”
The presentation of the grant was made to Dr. Phillip Huang, Director of Dallas County’s Health and Human Services Department and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Dr. Huang said in 2021, 25,492 people were living with HIV in Dallas’ eligible metropolitan area; 79% of those were residents of Dallas County.
Reflecting on when he was in high school and throughout his early career it was a death sentence to receive an HIV diagnosis, Dr. Huang said today he is optimistic about the future for those living with the diagnosis.
“We’ve come so far, and that’s what’s exciting about now, that we have the tools to deal with this and it’s not a death sentence,” he said.
Ayesha Hana Shaji is a 2022 graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where she was on The Shorthorn staff.
Dr. Phillip Huang, Director of Dallas County’s Health and Human Services Department, Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett, and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins
Photo cred: Ayesha Hana Shaji/TMN