Mayor Turner pledges to end HIV, AIDS in Houston

HOUSTON – Legacy Community Health says Houston has the highest number of new HIV/AIDS cases in Texas.

Thursday, is World AIDS Day. Legacy Community Health is using the awareness day to roll out its "Roadmap to Ending the HIV Epidemic in Houston."

The details were released at a press conference where Mayor Sylvester Turner declared this as the official day to "End HIV in Houston."

Legacy Community Health's plan includes targeting ZIP codes, ethnicities, specific areas where they can place clinics, increase testing and decrease the stigma of HIV.

The goal is to cut new cases of HIV by half over a five-year period, taking the diagnoses down from about 1,200 to 600.

However, HIV patients working with the clinic admit that just because they have a plan doesn't mean the issue disappears without putting in the work.

"As a community we have not talked a lot about ending the epidemic," Venita Ray, a woman living with HIV said.  "Mostly we talked about testing and getting people into treatment but we never really sat down and talked about it in a way that we really believed it could happen. By launching this plan, I believe Houston has turned the corner on HIV and we're not just focused on maintaining the status quo but really begun the work towards the goal of ending it here."

Legacy Community Health is one of three organizations to receive a $50,000 grant from AIDS United and the Ford Foundation to implement this plan.

On top of that, Turner says the city will be looking for grants or additional state funding to assist in the effort to eradicate HIV and AIDS.