AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Tuesday was World AIDS Day.
Since 1988, the day has given an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for those living with the disease, and honor those who have died because of it. Hundreds of people in our community are battling the disease, every day.
Panhandle AIDS Support Organization or “PASO” is a local non-profit that offers support to those infected with HIV in the 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle.
They offer AIDS education and training, financial and medication assistance, healthcare referrals, and counseling.
PASO eligibility specialist Nan Smalley said having PASO here on the High Plains is important because they serve the smaller towns that surround Amarillo.
“We are very essential in the panhandle because again HIV doesn’t just go away, it not just something that happens in big cities,” said Smalley.
Smalley points out, anybody can get HIV, not just homosexuals or drug addicts.
Smalley added we must educate ourselves better to get away from the stigma and falsehoods that come with the virus.
“Its education. Its education through generations. Its education to kids now that are in school, to let them know that it’s ok if this happens to you because you are still going to have a life, you are still going to be able to go to college, be able to have a job and have a family and be able to have babies and things like that, things that people don’t think about with people who are HIV positive,” said Smalley.
Right now, PASO is closed to the public, but they are still working with clients over the phone and through Zoom.
According to the most recent data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, in 2018, 280 people were living with HIV in Potter County and 157 people were living with HIV in Randall County.
In 2018, Texas had a total of 94,929 people living with HIV, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, with a majority of those being men.
For information about PASO, you can visit website by clicking the link provided.
More from MyHighPlains.com:
- Beware COVID-19 scams: Here’s what to look for
- West Texas A&M University’s virtual summer camp job fair set for Feb. 4
- APH reports 259 new cases, 6 deaths, 90 recoveries in Amarillo area
- Border crossing briefly shuts down as asylum-seekers try to enter U.S.
- Baylor launches lab to test students and staff