BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– December 1 is World AIDS Day, and while it is generally a day to remember those who lost their lives, the Louisiana Department of Health says they are also concentrating on reducing the number of HIV cases.
In 1988, World AIDS Day was the first day that was ever dedicated to global health and is observed on the first of December every year. People from around the world unite to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
But “ending the HIV epidemic is still achievable,” says Samuel Burges, STD/HIV/Hepatitis Program Director with the LDH. He adds that World AIDS Day has “also become more of a rallying around taking action to further prevent and eliminate HIV in our communities.”
According to the most recent data, Louisiana saw a 1.9 (per 100,000) drop in new HIV cases in 2019.
The Louisiana Department of Health says preliminary data indicates there was a decline in HIV diagnoses in Louisiana in 2020. However, Jessica Fridge, the Surveillance Manager with LDH, believes that is likely due to the pandemic. “While we’re excited about that decline in 2020, some of that really could be due to just people not accessing medical care,” says Fridge. She adds that as a result, “what we’re seeing is really a pretty significant increase in new HIV diagnoses this year.”
The Louisiana Department of Health announced Get Loud Louisiana as the statewide Ending the Epidemic plan in December 2020. LDH claims they are now in a position to improve health outcomes for people living with HIV, reduce its effects, and lower the incidence of new infections to below epidemic levels.
But Burges says there are still “societal norms and structural factors that we need to work together” to get HIV cases below epidemic levels. So LDH set five steps to achieve that goal.