Baton Rouge’s HIV/AIDS Problem Is Real and HAART Is Helping Solve It

By the numbers Baton Rouge has ranked in the top 5 for new HIV cases in the country for years. Back in 2016 The Advocate reported that Baton Rouge leads the nation in diagnosed HIV and AIDS cases, with the possibility of an additional 900 to 1000 people in the region living undiagnosed. Organizations like HAART are on the ground daily fighting the stigma of HIV and helping get those who need care, the help they need.

A few facts about HAART, which was birthed facing an increased number of HIV/AIDS cases in the area, in 1989 a task force was formed by concerned citizens and representatives of the Office of Public Health (OPH). Its purpose was to define the extent of the disease in the population, the affected subpopulation groups, and the need for services to assist affected individuals and families. From these early beginnings evolved HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc. (HAART), a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that offers a broad continuum of services to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

In 2014, about 24 percent of the more than 5,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in Baton Rouge were not receiving care, according to estimates from the state Department of Health and Hospitals and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HAART has been actively working to reduce these numbers.

A few facts about the work HAART has been doing over the past few years.

  1. In the past three Calendar years, HAART has been responsible for testing over 6000 thousand residents, probably making them the largest provider of HIV Testing in the Baton Rouge Region.  While identifying and linking close to 80 new positive clients.  Seeing these clients mostly come from the most at-risk zip codes in our city, they’re reaching the most underserved communities in our city.
  2. HAART has enrolled over 200 clients in this same calendar period on PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis), which is a drug that prevents the transmission of HIV/AIDS
  3. HAART has currently enrolled over 300 positive clients in case management services, housed over 90 HIV pos clients, while ensuring over 300 HIV pos clients got competent medical care.
  4. With New HIV Positive Clients seeing some of its lowest numbers in 20 years, organizations like HAART continue to fight hard against HIV.

If we are going to fight the stigma of HIV and AIDS in the Baton Rouge community we have to know the organizations with the resources to help us do so. HAART doesn’t just test for HIV, they offer services for testing for all other sexually transmitted illnesses.

There must be serious conversations about the stigmas around STD’s in Baton Rouge. It’s been said that many in Baton Rouge leave the city to seek care if they need it due to the stigmas around HIV, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted deceases. We can’t fix what we constantly avoid. The reality is, many of us know people impacted by the illness, the question becomes are they getting the care they need and deserve? HAART is here to help with that.

Have you been tested? Are you sure of your status? How long ago were you tested? If not the place to get you the answer is HAART. Check them out and tell others about the great work they are doing to help us decrease our numbers of sexually transmitted deceases.

HAART is located at 4550 North Blvd. Ste. 250, Baton Rouge, LA 70806.