September 18, 2014: SASI HIV Infrastructure Study: Baton Rouge, Susan S. Reif, Elena Wilson, Carolyn McAllaster, & Casteel Scherger.
SASI researcher, Kristen Sullivan, and SASI Steering Committee member, Sharon Decuir (of Baton Rouge, LA) released and discussed the SASI HIV Infrastructure Study: Baton Rouge at the SPEAK UP! National Summit for Women Living with HIV in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.
According to the Report:
- Baton Rouge had the highest AIDS diagnosis rate of any US metropolitan area in 2011;
- Baton Rouge had the highest HIV diagnosis rate among females overall of any US metropolitan area in 2010;
- 34.5% of new diagnoses occurred among women in Baton Rouge in 2010;
- Only 70% of those diagnosed with AIDS in Baton Rouge survived for 3 years after diagnosis in the years 2002-2006.
Despite community strengths that include generally available HIV medical care, committed HIV advocates and service providers, new funding for programs focused on the epidemic among people of color, and the use of Ryan White funds to purchase insurance for PLWHA through the Affordable Care Act, significant barriers to prevention and care remain:
- Pervasive stigma and discrimination that drives the epidemic into the shadows and leads to reluctance for HIV testing, prevention and treatment;
- Lack of state prevention funding accompanied by the lack of comprehensive and highly visible prevention efforts;
- Lack of tranportation options;
- Limited mental health and substance abuse treatment options;
- Lack of affordable housing.
The Report identifies the following strategies needed to address the epidemic in Baton Rouge: Additional resources for prevention and comprehensive prevention efforts that raise the visibility of the disease and address stigma as well as greater interagency collaboration, consumer participation in prevention and care planning, and greater resources for HIV case management, transportation, mental health, housing, and legal services.