Horns Up, Horns Down for Oct.28: Rising HIV rates in Travis County, Water for the homeless

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Horns Down: HIV rates rise in Travis County 

In an in-depth story on HIV infection rates in Travis County, the Austin American-Statesman reported Sunday that the county’s rate of new diagnoses — 23 per 100,000 residents — exceeded the state average by 40 percent last year. The county’s new-infection rate has been on the rise since 2010, but as Phil Huang, medical director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, told the Statesman’s Mary Ann Roser, it’s difficult to reverse that trend when the health department’s funding for prevention efforts hasn’t changed in years. According to Huang, $529,914 of the department’s annual $63 million budget is available for education and outreach. Health officials do what they can with that money, but it’s clearly not enough. If the county wants a healthier population, it’s going to have to fork over the cash to get people tested and treated.  

Horns Up: Water for the homeless

As the Austin American-Statesman reported Sunday, local clergy blessed a new water fountain outside St. Austin Catholic Parish on the Drag on Sunday. Paid for by a St. Austin’s parishioner and outreach ministry Mobile Loaves and Fishes, the fountain is meant for homeless youth who have seen many public accommodations removed in recent years in an effort to keep away the local homeless. It’s good to see the local religious community picking up the slack left by the city; the homeless deserve the same basic accommodations as the rest of us. 

Horns Up: Texas Universities' growth outpaces national trend

As The Texas Tribune reported Friday, new data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shows that Texas universities enrolled 8,000 new students in 2013, an increase of less than 1 percent over last year’s figures. With the state in the home stretch of a 15-year plan to improve its higher education performance, Texas leaders are working hard to close the remaining 34,000 student gap. But that’s going to be a tall order given this year’s sluggish growth as well as signs of slight declines in Hispanic enrollment. Still, it’s important to keep two things in mind: first, that Texas has come a long way since it embarked upon the “Closing the Gaps” plan in 2000, adding nearly 600,000 students, and second, that, as Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes noted in a statement, Texas’ slow university enrollment growth is still outpacing national trends. We are hopeful that state leaders will make one last push in these last two years of the program and bring Texas in line with other states.