March 19, 2012
Baton Rouge ranked number-one among Metropolitan Statistical Areas for its rate of AIDS diagnoses in 2010 -- 33.7 diagnoses per 100,000 population, CDC data show. The ranking does not surprise the Rev. A.J. Johnson, executive director of the Baton Rouge AIDS Society (BRAS). The nine-parish area has ranked high for years, he said.
The key thing people can do to prevent new infections and keep HIV from developing into AIDS is to get tested and "know your status," Johnson said. Prevention also requires ongoing messaging, something Baton Rouge needs, he said.
Area faith-based groups need to step up their outreach and spread information about testing and prevention, Johnson said. "I'm not talking about financial support, although we always need that, but for faith-based communities to start talking about HIV, especially in the black community," he added.
Tim Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, agreed with Johnson about more people needing to be educated about ways to prevent HIV/AIDS. Whether it is at a doctor's office or one of the city's numerous testing sites, young people should get tested, he stressed.
BRAS offers free testing 4-6 p.m. on Wednesdays at its center, 4560 North Blvd. For more information about BRAS testing, which is available during other hours for a fee, call 225-923-2437. Additional testing sites include the HIV/AIDS Alliance, 4550 North Blvd.; Metro Health Education, 950 E. Washington St.; Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge, 4727 Revere Ave.; and Capitol City Family Health Center, 3140 Florida St.