Fundraiser helps combat HIV in Texas Panhandle

Hundreds of local people came together for a good time Saturday (Nov. 9) night at an atypical cabaret show that raised a eyebrows, spirits, and funds to help combat a serious disease in the Texas Panhandle.

"Radio City PASO" is an annual fundraiser for the Panhandle AIDS Support Organization, which serves those afflicted with HIV in 26 counties across west Texas.

The AIDS epidemic began in 1981, and began spreading with incredible speed and ferocity over the next decade. Since then, AIDS rates have fallen significantly thanks to public awareness and new medicines, but HIV is still a widespread international problem.

And since 1987, PASO has been offering financial support, medical services, housing assistance, and social support to those in our area battling HIV.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there were 69,212 people living with HIV in Texas in 2011, which is about a 33 percent increase from 2005. That means roughly one in 374 Texans is living with HIV.

PASO Executive Director Michael Timcisko says our own local trends are very much in line with state trends.

"We have a lot of individuals out here in Amarillo and throughout the Texas Panhandle that currently don't have any insurance," said Timcisko, "and even with the Affordable Care Act, may not have insurance for a long, long time. So we're actually able to pick up the costs of their doctor visits, laboratory testing, prescription drugs, that sort of thing."

If you'd like to learn more about PASO's services or how you can help, follow the link attached to this story.