Baton Rouge area second, New Orleans third in nation in AIDS
The Baton Rouge metropolitan area ranks second in the nation in AIDS case rates, and New Orleans is No. 3, according to 2008 statistics released recently by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Miami ranks No. 1 in the nation, according to CDC data.
Sunday's Advocate reported that last year, the Baton Rouge metro area ranked No. 3 in the nation for AIDS case rates, according to the 2007 data.
The CDC uses the U.S. Census Bureau's Metropolitan Statistical Area to define the Baton Rouge metro area. It consists of nine parishes: East and West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, East and West Feliciana, Livingston and St. Helena.
HIV/AIDS in the United States
The number of people living with HIV infection in the United States (HIV prevalence) is higher than ever before. CDC has estimated that more than 1 million (1,106,400) adults and adolescents were living with HIV infection in the United States at the end of 2006, the most recent year for which national prevalence estimates are available. This represents an increase of approximately 11% from the previous estimate in 2003 . The increase may be due to:
Louisiana is ranked fourth in the nation for its rate of AIDS cases, according to the 2008 data.
DeAnn Gruber, interim administrative director of the state Office of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Program, said the ranking is nothing new and that the Baton Rouge metro area has ranked in the top 10 for its percentage of AIDS cases for a decade now.
"Late testing is a major factor," Gruber said when asked why the Baton Rouge metro area ranks so high.
Mayor-President Kip Holden said the HIV and AIDS problem in the Baton Rouge metro area is a "monumental health problem."
"We have been consistently ranked in the top five and it's a major problem here at home that continues to rear its ugly head," Holden said.
Jim Llorens, one of Holden's assistant chief administrative officers, called the problem a "community issue" and not something that any one agency can deal with alone.
"We need to make sure people are aware that testing is critical. This (HIV/AIDS) is something we take very seriously," Llorens said. Shirley Lolis, executive director of the Baton Rouge Black Alcoholism Council Metro Health, has been working for more than 20 years in HIV/AIDS prevention in communities in and around Baton Rouge.MORE