Louisiana: Baton Rouge's AIDS Rate 2nd in U.S.
May 18, 2011
Baton Rouge again ranks second in the nation in its AIDS case rate, though its 2009 rate of 30.6 per 100,000 residents was lower than the 2008 rate of 40.
The recently released 2009 CDC figures show Miami tops the ranking for the second straight year, with 37.2 AIDS cases per 100,000 people. New Orleans ranks ninth at 23 cases per 100,000, which represents an improvement over 2008 when it ranked third. The calculations are based on Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the US Census Bureau.
Though Baton Rouge remains number two, state Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) HIV/AIDS Program Administrative Director DeAnn Gruber said the area's nearly 10-point drop is encouraging. "It's nice to see the decrease for Baton Rouge, but the ranking remains the same and that's because the whole country is seeing a decrease," she said.
Gruber said the data point to a need of a stronger link between testing positive for HIV and getting into care. "If you get tested and you get HIV, you have to take the medicine," she said.
Karen Jones, a prevention counselor at HAART (HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two Inc.), said too many of her clients are uninformed about the disease. Stigma is another problem. "People in Baton Rouge stereotype people with HIV and AIDS. It's not right," she said. Her message to everyone is the same: "People need to go and get tested, know your status and take the medicine. You will live longer."
HAART Executive Director Timothy Young said, "The thing that is alarming is we still are having problems reaching the most at-risk population -- young black men." DHH data show African Americans accounted for 75 percent of new HIV cases and 76 percent of new AIDS diagnoses in the state in 2009.
The Advocate (Baton Rouge)
05.17.2011; Steven Ward
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