West Texas Health Organizations Set The Record Straight on HIV/AIDS Rumors Involving High School Students 12/6/12
CBS 7 News Reporter
December 6, 2012
MIDLAND, TX - Reports are spreading across the Permian Basin that HIV and AIDS are increasing rapidly in west Texas teens.
But after doing some investigating, we found out these reports are false. One organization says the rumors are impacting them during a crucial time of year.
High school blood drives with the United Blood Services help to bring in 17 to 20 percent of the west Texas blood supply a year. But recent rumors are threatening the desire for many young donors to give.
"More than 20% of all that blood of that group of young people... that went and gave in that one school alone Ö came back positive for HIV," said MAAS Executive Director Judy Warren.
Itís an alarming trend, if it were true.
"It's completely untrue. It's detrimental to spread those kinds of rumors. It ,number one, can discourage people from donating and it sends the wrong message about the health and well being of our student population,Ē said the United Blood Services Local Director Lee Hartmann.
Judy Warren is the executive director of MAAS, The Midland/Odessa Area AIDS Support, Incorporated. Itís a west Texas organization that provides counseling to HIV/AIDS positive people and education programs at local schools.
The false statements mentioned by Warren's organization even duped one local TV station and had people talking on social media.
Warren told CBS 7, she heard the information straight from members of a local high school administration, but would not tell us who.
So we started digging on the story and checking out the allegations. We found out that the United Blood Services, the Texas State Department of Health Services and the Ector County Health Department say this report is a lie.
We also discovered this isn't the first time Warren and her organization have been linked to HIV/AIDS false reports.
The Texas Department of State Health Services says they've informally investigated MAAS before. In fact they say they've traced her group to publicly spreading a similar rumor last year.
The Ector County Health Department says it's possibly a scare tactic to gain profit or attention and the numbers donít add up.
"Last number that I'm aware of, the whole Permian basin had about 4 to 500 HIV/AIDS positive people. So can you see a difference between that number, that's realistic ... and being told that out of 2,000 students 20%, which would be approximately 400 students getting positive. There is no way," said Ector County Health Department Director Gino Solla.
We spoke to Warren about what we uncovered and she refused to retract her statement. She says the bigger concern is getting people tested for STDís and spreading her message.
"I'm giving my life to save the young people of today. But their parents don't even want to listen. They don't even want to listen,Ē said Warren.
In our conversation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, officials say they plan on speaking with MAAS again in order to set the record straight.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, in 2011 there were 7 reported cases of HIV infections in Ector County and 14 in Midland County.
Also, there were 10 AIDS diagnoses in Ector County and 8 in Midland County.