The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has added “wellness testing” for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis to HIV testing services in Baton Rouge, La., home to the nation’s highest per capita HIV rate. AHF would offer STD tests from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays and from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every other Saturday at AHF’s 8281 Goodwood Boulevard facility. The clinic also would offer free treatment for those diagnosed with STDs.
According to Albert Ruiz, AHF’s national director of wellness programs, approximately 20 percent of HIV-infected people also had an STD. Baton Rouge reported 3,284 cases of chlamydia, 1,015 cases of gonorrhea, and 54 cases of primary and secondary syphilis in 2011, and CDC estimated 2011 HIV incidence at 29 cases per 100,000 Baton Rouge inhabitants.
Ruiz noted that AHF opened the Baton Rouge clinic to address high HIV rates and government budget cuts that had forced medical facilities to scale back their services. AHF National Deputy Wellness Director Mike McKany believed that people avoided HIV and STD testing because they feared their doctor would leak their test results or disclose them to their families. Leah Cullins, AHF nurse practitioner, emphasized that AHF aimed to make the clinic a comfortable, compassionate environment.
J.T. Lane, assistant secretary for Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health, welcomed AHF’s assistance in reducing high HIV and STD incidence in Baton Rouge.