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.
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.
The Advocate (Baton Rouge)
07.04.2010; Steven Ward
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