People need to start talking about a critical subject that a lot of people are not willing to talk about: HIV/AIDS.
The 2017 National Latino HIV/Hepatitis C Conference is engaging in that conversation.
News Center’s 23’s attended the conference and spoke to one of the speakers.
“I think it’s important for people to be aware of what [HIV] is and find ways to help,” said Mario Tovar, a licensed psychologist who offers psychological services at the Valley AIDS Council.
“When they’re diagnosed at first, the anxiety, the fear of dying, feeling very sad and developing symptoms of depression can also be present,” Tovar said referring to those diagnosed with HIV.
The purpose of the conference is to help people be more relaxed with the illness and find coping mechanisms to deal with the level of anxiety.
“[HIV] is around us and a lot of people don’t talk about it, misinformation and the lack of information can be as detrimental as a bad treatment,” Tovar said.
The Rio Grande Valley is the fourth highest HIV impacted area in Texas. Houston is the highest, followed by Dallas and San Antonio.
The Valley is considered ‘uniquely at high risk’ for HIV, because it is considered a rural area.
“Rather than ignoring it and pretend that it’s not there, we need to start talking about [HIV],” Tovar said. “Another thing is encouraging people to get tested.”
The Valley AIDS Council, hosted the conference, and offers free HIV and STI testing in its locations at Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen.
If you want more information on HIV and testing you can visit their website http://valleyaids.org/.