NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – June 27 is National HIV Testing Day and the DePaul Community Health Center, is encouraging Southeast, Louisiana residents to get tested.

HIV infections rates are high in the New Orleans region and stats from the CDC says the city ranks ninth nationally for case rates while Baton Rouge ranks seventh. More than 22,497 people in Louisiana are living with the virus with 15 percent of people in the region not knowing they have it.

Infectious Disease lead at DCHC, Dr. Stacy Greene said, over the past two years she has noticed the reduction of HIV prevention and management being addressed with patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she looks forward to the outreach effort.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an exacerbation in the gaps in the HIV care continuum. This was due to limited physical access to HIV care and prevention because of COVID-19 safety precautions. Just as it was shown that COVID-19 disproportionately affected minorities and the marginalized, HIV also disproportionately affects minorities,” said Dr. Greene. “African Americans make up 32% of the population in Louisiana, but comprised 63% of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 66% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases in 2021. COVID-19 has demonstrated emphasis on improving the social determinants of health for many diseases, including HIV, among the marginalized.”

A preventative method Dr. Greene uses for those that do not have the disease but are at risk of contracting the virus, is introducing PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis).

 PrEP works:

  • To keep HIV from becoming permanent
  • Reduces the risk of HIV infection by 92%
  • Is more impactful when combined with condoms and other prevention methods

“We now have effective medical care to help end the HIV epidemic. When patients diagnosed with HIV are on effective therapy and have an undetected viral load, the scientific data says they can’t transmit HIV. PrEP, when taken as prescribed in a person who is HIV negative, helps to effectively prevent HIV in someone who is exposed,” said Dr. Greene.

For those living with HIV in the region, the health center offers high quality and confidential assistance and DCHC says they treat everyone despite their ability to pay.

Testing will happen at the Carrollton Health Center location at 3201 South Carrollton Avenue, on Monday, June 27th.

Patients should call (504) 207-3060 for HIV testing appointments.