The Advocate (Baton Rouge) (10.25.12)
The latest figures show the Baton Rouge metropolitan area as first and the New Orleans metropolitan area as fifth in the rate of AIDS cases in the United States. The Louisiana Commission on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, which was formed to advise the governor on the viruses, met October 24, for the first time in more than two years. The commission failed to muster a quorum, but did review the grim statistics and discuss the commission’s future, specifically its role.
The statistics showed that new diagnoses of the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, are increasing in Louisiana. Also, the number of people infected is spreading from the metropolitan areas to other parts of the state. Other statistics presented: 18,502 people in Louisiana have AIDS or HIV as of June 30. Of those, 54 percent have AIDS. The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Louisiana increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011. Seventy-one percent of the newly diagnosed HIV patients were men. Seventy-four percent were black.
Some progress was made in between meetings. Louisiana succeeded in whittling down its wait list for people waiting to receive medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), due to the infusion of federal funding and the elimination of people who were not eligible. Also, the Division of Human Development and Services for Baton Rouge (DHDS) received a 6 percent increase in funding for the 2012 fiscal year, with awards increasing to $4.3 million. Raman Singh, chairman of the commission, urged the group to meet more regularly to stop the serious problem of the large numbers of HIV/AIDs cases in Louisiana.