Live healthy, stay negative

By Charlie Bartlett - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As the battle to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS rages on, a local group is kicking off their new campaign of awareness; live healthy and stay negative.

"We're encouraging people within the community to come out and get tested to find out what your HIV status is, "said Brian Burton.

Inside a host of organizations were on hand echoing that message.  Outside the mobile HIV testing unit was on hand.  They offered many tests such as the oral test. It takes about 20 minutes for results.

"If you do come back positive were are going to send it off to the lab and do a more extensive test on it so we can make sure it does come back HIV positive. We can get you set up with care and treatment on HIV medications that you may need to make you healthy," said Burton.

While you wait for your results, they offer counseling about HIV and ways to prevent it.

"We educate them on HIV, AIDS and STD transmission. We help them identify their risks and if they don't what the risks are, we can explain what each risk does," said Jamesia Marsalis.

They encourage people to get tested every six months. Taking your test sooner is better than waiting.

"Sometimes it takes up to ten years before you start to see symptoms and that's one of the problems we have. More people find symptoms and when they get a test they are going to realize they are HIV positive and at that point they are in full bloom for AIDS," said Burton.

As of March 2009, more than sixteen thousand people living in Louisiana have HIV or AIDS, which include more than 700 in Calcasieu parish. If we want to stop the cycle, educating yourself is key.

"Abstinence is the number one way, there are safer sex barriers methods, and you can be committed to committed monogamous relationships and be committed to the testing with your partner in continuing a safe and healthy relationship."

It's your decision to take the test. It's the first step in taking responsibility for you health and the health of others.

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