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Baton Rouge 2nd in AIDS rate

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Written by
The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — The latest data show that for the second year in a row, the Baton Rouge metropolitan area ranked second in the nation in the rate of AIDS cases.

According to 2009 data released recently by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate is 30.6, which means 30.6 per every 100,000 people in the Baton Rouge metro area have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. In 2008, the area rate was 40.

Holding onto first place in the nation for the second time is Miami, while New Orleans ranked ninth. In 2008, New Orleans was ranked third. The rank for the New Orleans metropolitan area is 23.

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.

Even though the Baton Rouge ranking was the same, state Department of Health and Hospitals HIV/AIDS Program Administrative Director DeAnn Gruber said the lower rate reported is encouraging but more needs to be done.

The CDC data show that Louisiana ranked fifth in the nation in AIDS’ case rates with a rate of 19.4. That’s an improvement over 2008’s fourth-place ranking.

“Baton Rouge has hovered around in the top 10 for years and we have been second in the nation for a couple of years now,” said Timothy Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two Inc., or HAART.

“The thing that is alarming is we still are having problems reaching the most at-risk population, young black men,” Young said.

The HIV rate for blacks in Louisiana continues to be high — 75 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 76 percent of newly diagnosed AIDS cases in 2009 were among blacks, according to DHH data.

Karen Jones, 42, a prevention counselor at HAART, said the federal data showing the Baton Rouge area had such high numbers is not surprising.

She said she sees clients every week who are uninformed about the disease, which she contracted after exposed to HIV in 1998 by her then-husband, who knew he was infected. In February 2008, Jones was diagnosed with AIDS.

“I have women who tell me their boyfriend won’t wear a condom, and they won’t make them,” Jones said.

She said she also has clients who are HIV positive who tell her they think it’s all right to have unprotected sex with someone else who is HIV positive.

Jones said the stigma of the disease does not help the problem.

“I know people who won’t come out of their houses because they have the disease,” Jones said


Written by demon53

May 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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