An influx of money from the federal government is bolstering the fight against HIV and AIDS in Dallas.
"Prevention dollars have more than tripled over the past two or three years in the Dallas area," said Raeline Nobles at AIDS Arms Inc., a local HIV and AIDS service organization.
The money is badly needed. The Dallas/Fort Worth area has the highest HIV infection rate in Texas.
The most recent numbers from Texas Department of State Health Services are startling. Consider the number of people between the ages of 35 and 44 living with HIV or AIDS in the Dallas area in 2008:
- 1 in 35 black men
- 1 in 88 black women
- 1 in 98 white men
According to the 2008 numbers, 6,720 white people of all ages had HIV or AIDS in the Dallas area. The numbers also show that 5,775 black people; 2,563 Hispanic people and 218 people of other ethnicities were living with HIV or AIDS.
The extra funding pays for education, counseling and HIV-testing programs.
"It is a war," Nobles said. "Our troops have to have the dollars to get out there in the community and fight back against this epidemic."
The prevention effort appears to be working. Until recently, health experts had predicted there would be 25,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in Dallas County in the year 2012. The projection is now lower -- about 22,000.
"What we've done, in concert with other organizations, is to be able to beat back that disease by at least 3,000 lives who will not have to live with HIV," Nobles said.
But no one is celebrating. HIV and AIDS are still spreading, and experts fear a loss of funding.
"If that money stops, believe me, the epidemic will come back in full force," Nobles said.
More: HIV/AIDS in Texas