UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:54am
WACO -- With Congress struggling to balance the budget deficit, one group met with several members to address the HIV and Aids epidemic saying now more than ever they need more funding to promote awareness.
Health officials in McLennan County agree. One in five Americans are living with HIV, according to the Center for Disease Control, but McLennan County has some surprising numbers of their own.
Officials say well over 400 people are actually certain they have HIV in the community, and that number is going up.
"People are just living in the ideal world of it's not going to happen to me. It's not at my school. It's not in my community, and so they're having unprotected sex, and it is there," said Public Health District Spokesperson, Laurel Churchman.
In fact, the health district tells us they just had a case where nine teenagers had to be tested when one of them got infected.
They see people with HIV or Aids as young as 16 and as old as 80.
Nearly 40,000 people were tested at the McLennan County Public Health District in 2009. Out of those, 40 tested positive. One percent might not seem like a lot, but health officials say it's a huge number for a community like McLennan County.
Churchman says in the 90s, they saw an average of five new cases a year. In 2008, 19 people were diagnosed, and that more than doubled in 2009.
So the virus has been spreading fast throughout the community.
"We could be at zero if everybody was educated, everybody realized the seriousness of it and everyone was tested. I think the most important thing is to kind of come out of your cocoon and quit saying well it cant happen to me," said Churchman.
Fox 44 spoke with a man with aids. He told us the virus takes a toll on your body.
He says you forget what it feels like to feel normal with constant sickness and fatigue. But with the number of people with the disease growing in Central Texas, he believes education is key.
Health officials agree, saying that's why federal funding is so badly needed despite budget cuts.