BATON ROUGE, LA — The Louisiana Commission on HIV/Aids and Hepatitis C met with the Governor yesterday for the first time in more than two years to discuss the sobering statistics.
At the meeting they discussed the latest HIV and Aids figures. The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Area ranks first and the New Orleans Metropolitan Area as fifth in the rate of Aids cases nationwide.
Cassandra Whitty is diagnosed with HIV and she says, "When I was diagnosed I was being tested for everything and that's the one thing that’s the one test they did not do".
Over 10 years ago Cassandra Whitty was diagnosed with HIV, "At that point I lost myself". Instead of worrying, and becoming a victim to the disease, she decided to become pro active. “I didn't want the virus to take control of me so I took control of it. I wanted to be part of the solution rather than the problem".
But Cassandra is one of thousands living with HIV and Aids in Louisiana. As of June 30th, over 18,500 people in Louisiana were living with aids or HIV. The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Louisiana increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.
People living with this potentially fatal but treatable disease can prevent it from spreading. Whitty says, "If your walking a round here not knowing your status your hurting, your hurting you and whoever you come into contact with”. And with the highest amount of cases in the country, people like Rev. AJ Johnson who founded the Baton Rouge Aids Society say it's something we need to deal with now. "Were simply not doing a good enough job, we can’t have one place funded for testing and solve the problem. These numbers are going up what can we do to bring them down”.
The Baton Rouge Aids Society provides free HIV and Aids testing.