Texas: Austin Health Officials Concerned About Rise in Youth HIV Cases

Five people under age 18 have been diagnosed with HIV in Travis County in recent months, according to the medical director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. "It is always tragic when this is happening, especially when it's our youth under 18," said Dr. Philip Huang. In 2011, the department saw six cases total for this age group.

All of the cases so far this year have been sexually transmitted, Huang said. "Some kids and adolescents put themselves at higher risk because they consider themselves invincible, and some kids don't consider oral or anal sex as sex," he said.

The increase of HIV among young people in Travis County mirrors one that is occurring nationwide, Huang said. He suspects complacency about the disease is driving the trend. "We hope parents will talk to their kids about this," he noted.

The department's RBJ Health Center, 15 Waller St., offers confidential STD testing and treatment services for $20, though the clinic will waive that cost for people unable to pay, said Huang. To make an appointment at RBJ, telephone 512-972-5430; to make an appointment at another location in the area, telephone 512-972-5580.