The Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative, a broad-based coalition of HIV/AIDS Advocates lead by the Duke AIDS Legal Project, has published an in depth analysis of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in a severely affected city in Louisiana. Released in April, 2014, the Southern HIV Infrastructure Study focuses on Baton Rouge which the report says, “not only has the highest AIDS diagnosis rate of any metropolitan area in the country, it also has the one of the lowest 3-year AIDS survival of any region in the state of Louisiana – a state that has the lowest AIDS survival in the US.”
The study found several community strengths including generally available HIV medical care, committed HIV advocates and service providers, new funding for programs focused on the epidemic among people of color, and the use of Ryan White funds to purchase insurance for people living with HIV through the Affordable Care Act. But despite those strengths significant barriers to prevention and care remain.
The report identifies the several strategies needed to address the epidemic in Baton Rouge including: Additional resources for prevention and comprehensive prevention efforts that raise the visibility of the disease and address stigma as well as greater interagency collaboration, consumer participation in prevention and care planning, and greater resources for HIV case management, transportation, mental health, housing, and legal services.