HIV/AIDS affects all of us.  One of the problems is that people are afraid to talk about the virus.  There are also those who think that HIV isn’t a problem in this community.  Well, the truth is, that there are people infected with HIV in every parish in Louisiana.

The CDC estimates that more than 1,100,000 Americans are living with HIV infection, and approximately 15.8% are not aware of their status. In Louisiana, 19,057 people are living with HIV infection and have been informed of their status, and an additional 3,600 people are infected but have not yet been diagnosed.

In 2012, 45% of people who were diagnosed with HIV in Hammond/Slidell were diagnosed with AIDS within 6 months of their diagnosis. People who have an AIDS diagnosis within 6 months of their HIV diagnosis are considered to be “late testers” since they were diagnosed late in their disease progression.

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HIV / AIDS Facts

  • HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.

  • AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease in which the body’s immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off certain infections, known as “opportunistic infections,” and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system.
  • A person who is HIV positive carries the virus in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. The virus can be transmitted only if such HIV-infected fluids enter the bloodstream of another person.
  • The major risk factors for HIV positive women are heterosexual contact and injection drugs.
  • HIV is not transmitted through food or air (for instance, by coughing or sneezing).
  • Having a sexually transmitted disease can increase your risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV.
  • If you are injecting drugs of any type, including steroids, do not share syringes or other injection equipment with anyone else. (Disinfecting previously used needles and syringes with bleach can reduce the risk of HIV transmission.)
  • Nearly half of the roughly 40,000 Americans newly infected with HIV each year are under the age of 25.
  • There is still no cure for AIDS.

Some of the above facts are provided courtesy of The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource (