The numbers are preliminary and it may be too early to know for sure, but AIDS Foundation Houston CEO Kelly McCann says it appears that the rate of HIV infection in the metropolitan Houston area is down by as much as 50 percent this year.
"I'm hoping that it is a true decrease in the number of infections. And if it is a true decrease, then I think we would have to point to success in of prevention interventions."
It could be that the prevention messages coming out are actually resonating with the target populations. McCann says homosexual men and African-American women are still two of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to HIV infection, so many of the prevention messages are directed toward those groups. But she says more analysis needs to happen before HIV/AIDS service organizations will know for sure what's working and what's not.
"My cautionary fear is that these lower numbers could be the result of just fewer people being tested for HIV. So that's why I say I think we have to be encouraged but wait until the end of the year to see what really pans out with regard to these numbers."
Whatever the actual number of new infections, McCann says future infections are 100 percent preventable and she hopes World AIDS Day reminds people of the precautions they should take.
"Think about all the people who've been lost to this disease, think about the people who are currently living with it and do what they can to take steps to protect themselves against HIV. And I encourage everyone to please get tested."
Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.