The Advocate (Baton Rouge) (01.17.13)
A CDC report released on January 10 indicates that the Baton Rouge, La., metropolitan area—which consists of nine parishes—ranks second among major U.S. metropolitan areas for new HIV infection diagnoses. CDC’s report is based on 2010 data of all U.S. metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 people. HIV case rates measure the number of new HIV cases per 100,000 persons. Baton Rouge’s 2010 HIV diagnosis rate was 52.1, indicating that approximately 52 people per 100,000 population were diagnosed with the virus. New Orleans’ rate is 44.3, ranking third in the United States. Miami, with a rate of 59.2, ranks first.
Timothy Young, executive director of the Baton Rouge HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, notes that HIV diagnoses are high among homosexual men, particularly among young African-American men living in uninsured, low-income communities. He emphasizes that the problem is pervasive throughout the South. The CDC report states Miami’s rate of 93.1 HIV diagnoses among males ranked first in the United States; Baton Rouge was second at 70.1; and New Orleans was third with a 69.8 rate. According to the report, Baton Rouge, with a rate of 35, was first in new HIV cases among all females in 2010; Miami was second at 27.5; Jacksonville, Fla., was third at 23.1; and New Orleans was fourth at 21.3.
Young points out the unique aspect of the January 10 CDC report, saying CDC regularly publishes reports about AIDS diagnoses by metropolitan area, but this report on HIV infection diagnoses gives physicians the opportunity to treat HIV more effectively before AIDS manifests itself. Young declares, “By being able to detect HIV infection, we can get a clearer picture of those who are already infected. That could help us improve our targeted demographics.” He adds that the best ways to prevent HIV infection are to get tested and practice safe sex.