The Advocate (03.12.13)
According to 2011 data from CDC, the per capita rate of new AIDS cases in New Orleans and Baton Rouge ranks among the highest for US cities. For the second year in a row, the Baton Rouge metropolitan area has the highest per capita rate of new AIDS cases in the United States, while New Orleans ranked fourth. The report stated that Baton Rouge has a rate of 29, which means 29 people out of every 100,000 population were diagnosed with AIDS in 2011. CDC uses the US Census Bureau’s Metropolitan Statistical Area to define the Baton Rouge metro area, which consists of nine parishes: West Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Ascension, Pointe Coupee, West Feliciana, East Feliciana, St. Helena, and Livingston. Miami was ranked second, with a rate of 28; Atlanta third, with a rate of 27; New Orleans fourth, with a rate of 25; and Baltimore fifth, with a rate of 24.
Timothy Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc. (HAART), declared, “In the South you have issues with access to care and the insured versus the uninsured and poverty.” Young stated that the medical community needs to provide universal HIV testing with every medical procedure and surgery so that people get tested and know their status. Young noted that approximately 80 percent of the Metro Baton Rouge population afflicted with the disease is black, and urged men to stop having unprotected sex with other men.
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. She stated that even though Baton Rouge continues to be in the top 5, she is encouraged that more people are getting tested, but warns that the problem is that some people wait too long to get tested.