North Texas

HIV Screening Part of Effort to Reduce Rising Numbers in Denton County

Public health officials in North Texas and elsewhere report a recent increase in the number of new cases of HIV. In response, many places Thursday offered free HIV screenings, part of National HIV testing day.

Martin Lorentz thought he'd met his life partner in early 1988. A relationship which only lasted four years.

"We had this amazing relationship," said Lorentz, of Trophy Club.

But while visiting family, his partner, Jay, became sick.

"We went to the doctor and they tested him, and he was positive," he said. "Full-blown AIDS."

Jay died in November of 1991. Lorenz knew what that probably meant for himself. He, too, had the disease.

"One of the things with people with AIDS -- not everybody, but a lot of people feel like they're damaged goods," he said.

Lorentz said the disease nearly killed him -- twice. Now 60, he's lived with AIDS for half his life.

"I don't know why I'm still here," he said. "A lot of people tell me it's because I'm a fighter. But there's lots of fighters."

Lorentz shared his story to push the importance of HIV testing. Denton County Public Health officials held a free screening Thursday, as nationwide, the number of new HIV cases is on the rise.  Federal officials have mounted a campaign to reduce the number of new HIV cases by 90 percent.

"We don't know where the increase is," said Dr. Matt Richardson, Denton County Public Health Director. "Maybe other than a lack of education and a lack of access."

In Denton County, sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases, though a relatively small number, is up an estimated 30 percent.

"That's enough of an increase for us to be concerned," said Richardson. "For us to take new steps, interventions like today, free testing events to really help people know their status. We need to get them informed in how to prevent further infection of others."

Public health officials also believe complacency plays a factor in the increase in HIV cases. People can live longer lives with the disease with proper treatment. Lorentz agrees.

"Testing is so important," he said. "You can get results from testing in 30 minutes."

Lorenz said he's been relatively healthy for more than two decades. He still battles depression, and misses his partner.

"Just a little touch of emotion comes up," he said, while looking through pictures of Jay. "Because it's been so long."

Still, he's thankful -- to be where he is today.

"I've already faced the scariest part of my journey in this world," he said. "Life is good."

Contact Us