Get Tested! HIV in
the RGV

Words by Freddy Jimenez

June 27th is HIV Testing Day. In honor of that, we’ve compiled a list of testing sites and resources throughout the Rio Grande Valley that people can use or inquire about. 

In 2020, the Center for Disease Control released data showing that overall HIV rates in the United States had gone down by 6%, but for Latinx people, in particular, rates increased by 14%. And while in the state of Texas, rates have usually been higher in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston, the Rio Grande Valley follows right after.  

This special report by KRGV sources that data and elaborates on the need for broader healthcare resources in the RGV, the stigma around HIV, and how dating apps/lack of communication contribute to those high rates. 

In 2018, due to rising rates in South Texas, UTRGV was awarded a $430,000 grant from the National Institute of Health to begin research and develop a new, affordable anti-HIV drug that is stronger and more effective.

As research has continued, it’s come to light that HIV disproportionately affects Latinx people, right after Black people. As the publication The Body stated:

 

  • Of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S., more than 250,000 are Latinx, which is about 22%. Latinx people are about 16.7% of the U.S. population, meaning they are overburdened by the U.S. HIV epidemic.

  • While Latinx people are about one-fifth of the U.S. population living with HIV, they are about a quarter (26%) of new HIV infections.

  • Latinx people have the second-highest rate of new HIV infections per 100,000 adults among all racial groups—behind only Black Americans.

  • Latinx people are between two and three times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white people in their lifetime.

In 2020, artists Ronnie Garza and Gabriel Sanchez, along with a vast array of RGV LGBTQIA+ members, came together to create a documentary covering the history of the Valley’s LGBTQIA+ community. As the creators stated in a Telemundo interview, “Pansy Pachanga: a project about struggle, history, diversity, and pride. This documentary gives a look at the LGBTQ+ community in the Valley with stories of more than 50 people who – while fighting for acceptance and respect – have had the courage to live without masks. October is LGBTQ+ History Month and it brings up questions like ‘What were the origins of the first gay bars in the Valley? What were the first drag shows like? What was the impact of HIV in the 1980s?’ These are some of the questions that Pansy Pachanga hopes to answer.”


Below is a portion of the documentary Ronnie Garza presented in 2020 via a ProBar webinar, showing Valley LGBTQIA+ people recall the beginnings of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 80s, back then known as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency).

 

 

Derek Duval Interviewed for Pansy Pachanga 

Organizations like Greater Than AIDS and Advocates For Youth also offer many resources on their websites and promote positive and civic engagement for HIV/AIDS in an intersectional and inclusive manner.

Here is a list of testing locations across the RGV:

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