New Orleans, LA – The NO/AIDS Task Force of New Orleans hosted a free H-I-V testing and information workshop in conjunction with the Magic Johnson Foundation. Counseling and testing coordinator Robin Pearce says the event was aimed at educating teenagers about what's been learned since the epidemic began 30 years ago.
"There wasn't treatment available and so many people died just because no one knew what to do about it. Now we're in a world where H-I-V is everywhere and, not only is H-I-V an epidemic in Africa but H-I-V is an epidemic in the United States as well."
Pearce says New Orleans is ranked 9th in metropolitan areas in the country of people living with an AIDS diagnosis. She says that amounts to one out of 100 people in Jefferson and Orleans parishes living with H-I-V.
"That number might not seem big, but that's very significant number in a population of our size. We're not that big."
Pearce says one reason for the high percentage could be a lack of information on prevention and treatments. So in addition to offering educational materials at the Kingsley House event, free testing was available. H-I-V testing is done with a mouth swab that looks like a pregnancy test, and results are available in 20 minutes.
NO/AIDS New Orleans is planning events to mark World AIDS Day next month, including a fundraiser in the French Quarter.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.