Press Release

Cong. Cuellar Announces Second Year of $2 Million HIV/AIDS Grant

Federal grant will tackle HIV/AIDS treatment from perspective of substance abuse, behavioral health

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LAREDO, Texas, January 15, 2016 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments
Today Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) announced the second year of a four-year, $2 million federal grant to tackle HIV/AIDS in Laredo. The first budget year’s grant amount was $500,000.

The grant, which runs from 2014 to 2018, is for a total of $2 million and was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help the City of Laredo Health Department combine comprehensive HIV/AIDS services with services for co-occurring substance abuse and/or behavioral health disorders. The program will reduce the risk of HIV transmission, improve outcomes for those living with HIV, and ultimately reduce new infections. Congressman Cuellar facilitated the interaction between Laredo city officials and SAMHSA.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects Hispanics and Latinos as well as the residents of Webb County disproportionately,” Congressman Cuellar said. “Accessible health care is a priority of mine, so it was important to me to help the city secure these funds.”

“This project is a demonstration of how two providers can work together to improve critically important health care for HIV/AIDs persons who have a behavioral health or substance abuse prevention need,” said Dr. Hector F. Gonzalez, director of the City of Laredo Health Department, who spoke at the press conference.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Webb County is ranked:
• 16th in a list of 25 Texas counties with the highest number of HIV diagnoses.
• 19th in a list of the 25 Texas counties with the highest number of AIDS cases.
• 22nd among counties with the highest number of people living with HIV.
• 22nd in a list of the highest rate of HIV diagnoses.

The U.S. is making great strides toward ending the scourge of HIV/AIDS. However, the Hispanic population in the U.S. is still disproportionately affected by HIV. Hispanics/Latinos represent roughly 17 percent of the population but account for roughly 21 percent of people living with HIV as well as 23 percent of new infections each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013, Texas was the third highest among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses, and 35.8 percent of those diagnosed in Texas that year were Hispanic or Latino.
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