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Triangle AIDS Network hosts HIV and AIDS conference
BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull
The Triangle AIDS Network talked to Southeast Texans Wednesday about prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS at its' 26th Annual HIV and AIDS Conference.
According the Texas Department of State Health Services, Jefferson County was one of the top ten counties in the state in the case rates of people affected by HIV and AIDS. Jefferson County was 3rd in Texas in the rate of HIV infection, 5th in AIDS and 8th for people living with HIV.
The Triangle AIDS Network stressed the the importance of getting people to seek care and continue treatment.
"They find out they're positive but then there's fewer people that get into care, fewer people that stay into care and then there's even fewer people where their virus is suppressed," Kathleen Feldschau, a services and medical case management coordinator for TAN, said. "That's the ultimate goal, to get as many people in care and their virus under control."
Allen Huff was among the people who attended the conference. Doctors diagnosed Huff with HIV more than 25 years ago. Today, he uses the Triangle AIDS Network as a support system. He said the key is staying positive.
"It makes you a little more compassionate toward others, you know, and trying not to take things so seriously," Huff said. "I love to tell jokes. So you know you have to have a positive attitude, to stay positive. Because attitude to me, is probably 80 percent of any illness. You know if you have a positive attitude you're going to do better than if you have a negative attitude."
Significant advances in treatment have turned the one time death sentence into a disease considered as a chronic illness. Feldschau said despite this, there is still a stigma.
"There's still a really heavy stigma and I think some is, people actually stigmatize themselves to where then they have that problem with wanting to accept their diagnosis and go forward into treatment and care," Feldschau said.
The Triangle AIDS Network reminded the community it's there to provide support, care and education. It plans to hold its' annual "Paint the Town Red" fundraiser in November.