NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans' average rate of undiagnosed individuals with HIV is 25% compared to 10 to 15% in the rest of the country.
"The reason is largely due to what we refer to as the 'social determinants' of health," says Dr. Markalain Dery, assistant professor of medicine at Tulane University.
Dr. Dery says New Orleans has the highest rates of poverty, homelessness and illiteracy, to cite a few examples. Examples he says are the core reasons why New Orlinians also hold the highest rates of HIV.
"It's demanding better education and demanding the ability to make sure young people have the information necessary to make the best choices for them," says Dery.
But lowering our city's high HIV rate is not an impossible feat to overcome, even though there is still no known cure.
"We're at a point now where we can get to zero HIV transmissions just through the use of preventative methods, through education or through ‘PrEP,'" says Dery.
‘PrEP,’ or, pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a daily pill that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected.
It's just one step of several people can take to raise awareness about HIV in our community and prevent the disease from spreading without reducing our quality of life.
"We're at a point now with HIV where we're not looking at it as being something that's a death sentence anymore,” says Dery.