Louisiana State is located in the Deep South region of the Central United States. Having borders with Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the 25th most populated states of the Country. The state has a majority population of white Americans (60.3 %) and holds the second largest population of Black or African Americans (32.5%). Minority populations of Creoles and Cajuns who relate to strong French backgrounds are also a part of the ethnic groups of Louisiana.
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HIV rates in Louisiana are relatively higher, and the cases are on a constant rise. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Louisiana has been ranked 2nd in the country for having active HIV cases.
HIV surveillance report by CDC, Louisiana has ranked the State as 2nd highest in estimated AIDS cases in 2014. Since 2005 the number of HIV-positive cases in men increased by 43 percent while women only account for 27 %. HIV positive cases among females have remained stable over the course of time. African-American men and women have been disproportionately affected by HIV since the start of this epidemic and, through the times, have faced severe health inequalities. By the year 2014, 72% of the newly diagnosed HIV cases in the State were that of black communities. Of the total tested positive cases, 20% were young individuals with ages 13 to 24.
Owing to the increase in HIV cases, the CDC recommends that individuals within the age group 13 to 64 years should get tested at least once as a part of their normal healthcare routine. It is recommended that individuals belonging to communities or localities where there is more prevalence of the virus should get tested once a year.
Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) works for the protection and promotion of health in the State. With the basic objective to ensure access to all medical, preventive, and rehabilitative services to the citizens, LDH has also come up with initiatives for the eradication of the HIV epidemic in the state.
The STD/HIV Program by LDH is a specialized program that helps in the coordination of statewide as well as federal and regional programs for the prevention and transmission of HIV/AIDS. The program also focuses on ensuring the provision of medical services and keeping track of the impacts of the epidemic in the State.
New Orleans and East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are the two urban areas that have been most affected by the virus. The rate of individuals living with this virus is three times higher than the national average. The locality has been a center of attention by various local government bodies such as the Mayor’s office, Louisiana Department of Health, Hospitals, and Programs like STD/HIV programs. With the support from these bodies and following the national ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic’ initiative, the State of Louisiana has devised plans to confront and fight back the virus.
In line with the national initiatives to end the HIV epidemic, the local government bodies have come up with strategies tailored according to the needs of the community. These four fundamental strategies involve the diagnosis of individuals for early diagnosis and detection, treatment of HIV infection timely after the diagnosis, and getting the affected individuals virally suppressed. Prevention of HIV infections by interventions such as PrEP and Syringe service programs and rapid response to potential HIV outbreaks and prevention are strategies that the local bodies are following.
Louisiana health Access Program uses external funding sources to provide medical assistance, including the hospitalization and medication as well as insurance needed for HIV positive individuals. Under the Ryan White Part B program, the State of Louisiana receives grants for essential medical services specialized to AIDS/HIV patients.
Ryan White Part B Program funds are also utilized for providing awareness and education to the general public. The awareness session emphasizes the importance of testing and early diagnosis as well as enlightens the public about preventive measures.
According to the US Census Bureau, the total population of the State of Louisiana in 2015 was 4,670,724, of which an estimated 63% were white, 32% African-American, 2% Asian, and other population consisted of individuals from Hispanic and Cajun backgrounds.
The state has been disproportionately affected by HIV. By the year 2015, 20,480 individuals were known to be living with HIV. During the year 2015 alone, 1,142 individuals were newly diagnosed with HIV infection, of which 75% were male. African-Americans comprise a larger proportion of newly diagnosed HIV cases. According to the CDC, during 2018, the number of newly diagnosed HIV individuals has decreased only a little to 972. In 2018, 20,907 individuals were still diagnosed as HIV positive cases.
In the year 2015, there were 20,480 cases of people living with HIV (PLWH). Out of these, 70% were males while 29% were females and transgender accounted for 1% of the HIV cases. The percentage of African Americans or Black Americans living in Louisiana was almost half of the white residents, yet they accounted for 72% of the total PLWH. White Americans with HIV accounted for 19 %, while individuals with Hispanic backgrounds accounted for almost 5 % of the newly diagnosed cases in 2015.
The majority of the cases reported in the urban areas are that of gay or bisexual males or other males having sex with male partners. In over 19 % of the cases, the transmission of the virus occurred due to injection or drug usage. Individuals of ages 13 to 24 made up around 20% of the total positive cases while the greatest number of diagnoses was made for the age group 25 to 44 years, i.e., 52%.
According to data shared by AidsVU, in 2018, there were around 20,900 people living with HIV in Louisiana, with 972 newly diagnosed cases of HIV. Out of these, 78% were males living with HIV, and 29% were females. African-Americans accounted for the highest proportion of HIV cases, with over 68% of all HIV diagnoses, followed by whites with over 24% new diagnoses. Hispanics/Latinos reportedly accounted for just 5% of all cases in Louisiana in 2018.
Senior citizens in Louisiana were the most at-risk demographic group as out of the total cases reported in 2018, around 28% were reported among people aged 55 or above. The second at-risk group was people aged between 45 and 54, with over 24% of all cases. Approximately 23% of all cases were reported among people 35-44, 23.3% in the 25-34 age group, while youth (people between ages 13-24) accounted for 4.5% of all HIV diagnoses.
The prevalence of the virus was more in urban areas as compared to the rural localities. During the year 2015, New Orleans had the biggest number of PLWH. Of the total diagnoses, 33% of individuals belonged to New Orleans, followed by Baton Rouge at 22%, and Shreveport at 11 %.