• As of March 31, 2015, a total of 20,112 persons are living with HIV infections in Louisiana. Of these, 53% have an AIDS diagnosis.
• The primary risk factor for new HIV diagnoses in Louisiana is men who have sex with men.
• In Louisiana, 25% of new HIV cases, 31% of new AIDS cases, and 31% of the early syphyllis diagnoses were among women.
• African Americans in Louisiana are experiencing a severe health disparity in regard to HIV and SDIs. In the first quarter of 2015, 81% of early syphilis cases were among African Americans. African Americans only make up 32% of Louisiana’s overall population.
• A large percentage of new HIV and syphilis diagnoses occurred among adolescents and young adults. In the first quarter of 2015, 48% of all early syphilis diagnoses occurred among 13-24 year olds, and an additional 34% occurred among persons 25-35 years old.
Source: Louisiana HIV, AIDS, and Early Syphilis Surveillance Quarterly Report - Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health.
The Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council was founded in 1987. The Comprehensive Care Clinic was founded in 1996 and treats all infectuous diseases. In 2000, the CCC became a Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C provider to offer services to minority populations in underserved, rural areas. In 2010, the CCC became a Part D provider serving women, children, youth, and infants.
SLAC and the CCC began integrating their services in 2009-2010. This partnering allows for a more comprehensive continuum of quality care and holistic approach for those in Southwest Louisiana affected by HIV/AIDS. Together with the Resource & Wellness Center, SLAC and the CCC employ the Health Systems Navigation (HSN), a model of care that treats the patients at all levels, meeting they client where they are in life, and linking them to medical care.
HSN helps with the removal of socioeconomical obstacles that clients face in accessing treatment or social services, including the stigma still attached with a positive diagnosis.
HIV cannot be spread through casual contact. The virus is transmitted through direct blood to blood contact, sexual fluids, and breast milk. HIV is not transmitted from eating or drinking after an HIV+ person, from hugging them, or having them sweat, spit, or cry on another person.
Significant medical advancements in the last few decades also mean that an HIV+ diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. The “terminal diagnosis” fears that remain from the early years of the “AIDS epidemic" is a strong barrier for those diagnosed. Therefore, there is a concerted effort to shift the paradigm from “Dying of AIDS” toward “Living with HIV”.