A look at HIV/AIDS in Southwest Louisiana

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – As President Obama announces a new strategy to deal with HIV/AIDS in America, the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Southwest Louisiana is on the rise.

According to the White House, 1.1 million Americans currently live with HIV. According to the Southwest Louisiana Aids Council (SLAC), 1,100 of them live in the five parish region that makes up Southwest Louisiana. Six hundred people who are infected live in Lake Charles.

"Even though we have a lot of resources to treat and people are living longer, people are still being affected everyday," said Candice Pauley, a case manager for the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council.

And while the number of cases is on the rise, the funding for organizations that help people cope with HIV/AIDS is on the decline, a victim of the economy.

"It use to be we would test anyone who came through the door," said Pauley. Our prevention budget has been cut rather drastically, so we have to space [HIV testing] over the year."

Pauley said SLAC currently administers eight tests per month.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced a new initiative to combat HIV/AIDS with the goal of reducing the number of infections by 25% within five years. The administration also aims to provide treatment for 85% of infected individuals within the first three months after their diagnosis.

Every 9 ½ minutes someone is infected with HIV in the U.S.

For more information about HIV/AIDS and resources to get tested, click here.

You can also call the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council at (337) 439-5861.

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