MONROE, L.a (KTVE/KARD) – The Ray Oliver Wright Health Unit in Monroe hosted its first HIV Awareness and Testing Event Wednesday, December 28.

Medical professionals at the health unit told KTVE the efforts to organize this testing event are due to a high HIV rate in Louisiana, which is affecting people as young as 13 years old.

“All of Louisiana has seen an increase for the last three years,” said
OPH Regional Administrator for Region 8, Jeff Toms. “This year 2022, we had more diagnoses than the last three years. And also, Louisiana currently ranks 4th in the nation in HIV diagnosis.”

In 2021, Toms says, over half of the diagnoses in Louisiana were in young adults between the ages of 13 and 34.

“For all regions, we have a goal not only to increase awareness for HIV risk factors, and rates, but also where to get tested, where to have the treatment, and give information on how to get on prep to reduce future HIV infections,” explained Toms.

Regional Nurse Manager for Region 8, Melissa Brown, says it’s important to know your status. The sooner you get your HIV test, the sooner you can get into care and get treatment.

“Early on, sometimes you can have flu-like symptoms. And that would be a more recent infection. But a lot of times there are no symptoms at all. So, you definitely need to get tested,” said Brown.

If you or your family would like to get tested you can call the health unit and they will connect you with a medical provider. You can call (318) 361-7370