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U.S. News

Louisiana: Baton Rouge Area Second in U.S. for AIDS

July 7, 2010

Baton Rouge's place near the top of the CDC's most recent HIV/AIDS rankings has public health officials concerned, but not surprised.

In 2008, Baton Rouge's rate of AIDS diagnoses, 40 per 100,000 residents, was second among all US metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) only to Miami's 42.8 per 100,000. New Orleans, with 32.4 diagnoses per 100,000, was third.

"My reaction is that I'm not surprised," said Timothy Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two (HAART). "There are many reasons we are so high."

Public health officials cited late testing as one factor contributing to the area's rate of AIDS diagnoses. Frequently, people with HIV do not know they have the virus until it has advanced to AIDS.

"We have consistently ranked in the top five, and it's a major problem here at home that continues to rear its ugly head," Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden said.

HIV/AIDS in the area's prison population, which is reflected in the local statistics, partly explains Baton Rouge's rates, officials say. Four prisons are located in the nine-parish MSA.

One local HIV activist attributed the HIV/AIDS rates, in part, to more aggressive outreach.

"I think the number is high because we are identifying more people and connecting them to services. When they get the services, it's easier to count them," said Shirley Lolis, executive director of Metro Health, an HIV/AIDS prevention initiative.

Metro Health and HAART recently received a five-year, $246,000 annual CDC grant to implement HIV education and risk-reduction programs in the Baton Rouge area, Lolis said. "When I hear where we rank, I think we still have a lot of work to do," she said.

Back to other news for July 2010

Adapted from:
The Advocate (Baton Rouge)
07.04.2010; Steven Ward

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More HIV Statistics on Southwest U.S. States

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