02/13 - Preventable: HIV/AIDS in Louisiana

So how is Louisiana confronting this health issue?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Baton Rouge and New Orleans rank 2nd and 3rd among America’s largest metropolitan areas for the rate of new HIV diagnoses. For AIDS cases, Baton Rouge and New Orleans rank 1st and 5th. Nearly one-third of new cases for both diseases are among women and more than three-quarters of new diagnoses are among blacks.

So how is Louisiana confronting this health issue? Who is most at-risk? Do new testing methods exacerbate the problem? Is the solution just more funding and education? Where is the line drawn between individual responsibility and government intervention? Watch “Preventable: HIV/AIDS in Louisiana” on Louisiana Public Square, airing Wednesday, February 27th at 7 p.m. on LPB HD. (Taping, Thursday, Feb 21st.)

Backgrounder

The basics: HIV and AIDS

HIV HIV is short for "Human Immunodeficiency Virus."

The virus infects vital cells in the human immune system such as helper CD4+T cells. When CD4+ T cell numbers decline below a critical level, the body becomes progressively more susceptible to opportunistic infections.

...Read Full Backgrounder

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Our Panelists:

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Frontline: Endgame: AIDS in Black America

More than a Medical Issue: AIDS in Black America

Hiv411.org – Latest information about HIV/AIDS in Louisiana

Delta Region AIDS Education & Training Center - Statewide HIV/AIDS resources

La Dept of Health, STD/HIV Program – La Dept. of Health and Hospitals STD/HIV Home page

B.R.A.S.S. – Baton Rouge AIDS Society

NO/AIDS Task Force – Resources for New Orleans area


Watch Preventable: HIV/AIDS in Louisiana on PBS. See more from WLPB.

We want to know your opinion! Leave your comments in the box below.


There have been several new initatives started since I moved back home to Baton Rouge from Atlanta in 2003. However, Lousiana is still behind with its efforts. Also, there has been several things that have occurred on the government level in Louisiana that may make the problem worse and contribute to the numbers mentioned above, for instance, the Prevention dollars of $2.5 million cut from the DHHS budget, the choice not to expand Medicaid will make it difficult to link to treatment those that we identify as HIV positive and though this may not seem relevant, but not allowing the “Cigarette Tax” to expire where those dollars could be channeled to Health Care will effect the AIDS case rates in the future.

Those who are most at-risk are: African Americans, Men Who Sex with Men (MSM)across racial and ethnic lines, Injection Drug Users (IDUs)and youth.

No, I don’t think the methods exacerbate the problem. I think the new testing methods are essential to detect individuals early that are HIV positive and linking them to medical care as soon as possible. Until those individuals that do not know their status are tested and identified they will not be in care and when they do learn of their HIV status, they will quite possibly receive a diagnosis of AIDS within 6 months of learning of their HIV diagnosis. AIDS is the status of their HIV infection. The longer they go without being detected with HIV they will acquire AIDS.

No. The solution is not just more funding and education, the answer must be a committment from government and law enforcement not to block efforts by agencies that are willing to go where the virus is (in drug houses, the streets during non-traditional hours of night working with Commercial Sex Workers (CSW)and IDUs,etc.)with interventions (Clean Syringe Access and Condom availability)that may seem immoral but has proven to be effective HIV prevention tools. Additional funding is needed to put more “boots” on the ground. More education is needed as well as awareness.

Why does there have to be lines drawn? Part of government’s interventions can help foster personal responsibility. Most individuals that acquire the virus are under the influence of drugs or may have mental health issues which cause individuals to behave irresponsibility. These issues have to be addressed. We can’t rely on people to take responsibility alone not if we don’t want these numbers to get worse or decrease.

Posted by Rhonda Irving  on  01/28  at  03:41 PM

Viewing the show “prevention hiv in louisiana was very educational and I thank you for showing a format to expose the truth of this problem but this is just a start.What about the rural areas and the people who are not being tested.I wish to be a part of the solution,can your organization aline me with agencies in the northeast louisiana area who are working to stop the spread of this diease and how I can be of service to address this issue.I do have a close relationship with this issue and i liked the fact you stressed its not just a gay mans issue.Thank you for trying to bring louisiana in the fore-front and let people know what is really happening and that this is a very serious issue.Response requested.

Posted by Jerry Wright  on  02/28  at  11:06 AM

Thank you so very much for confronting the issue of HIV and AIDS in Louisiana. It is past time for this epidemic to be squarely faced and discussed in public forums, and it is past time for the state of Louisiana to commit its resources to prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV/AIDS. In southwest Louisiana 57% of new HIV cases in 2012 had already progressed to an AIDS diagnosis! This means that people had been infected for years and were likely, in their ignorance, to have been infecting others! We must speak openly about the risks of HIV and work to enable people to know their status and to link with and remain in high quality medical care within their communities.

Posted by Carol Giles  on  03/04  at  09:40 AM

Please do not think everyone that works’ with the HIV population believes as those panels members which is being aired. STOP the madness!!! If thats’ the best practices Baton Rouge has to offer, no wonder there’s an epidemic in the capitol. Call for more expert and social capita to speak to our community-Louisianians.

Posted by gwen guillory  on  03/05  at  03:20 PM
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