Report: BR second in HIV cases

The Baton Rouge metro area ranks second among major United States metro areas for new HIV infection diagnoses, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The report, released Jan. 10, is based on 2010 data of all U.S. metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 people. HIV case rates measure the number of new HIV cases per 100,000 persons.

The CDC uses the U.S. Census Bureau’s Metropolitan Statistical Area to define the Baton Rouge metro area. It consists of nine parishes: East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Livingston and St. Helena.

Baton Rouge’s rate of people diagnosed with HIV in 2010 is 52.1, meaning about 52 people per 100,000 population were diagnosed with the virus, the report says. New Orleans’ rate is 44.3, which ranks third in the U.S.

Miami tops the list with a rate of 59.2.

Timothy Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, or HAART, in Baton Rouge, said HIV diagnoses are high among homosexual men, especially among young black men living in low-income, uninsured communities. He said the problem extends throughout the South.

“If you look at the cities with the 10 highest HIV case rates, most of them are in the South,” Young said.

The CDC report says Miami’s rate of 93.1 HIV diagnoses among males ranks first in the nation. Baton Rouge is second at 70.1, and New Orleans ranked third with a 69.8 rate.

Baton Rouge is first in new HIV cases among all females in 2010 with a rate of 35, the report says. Miami is second at 27.5, Jacksonville, Fla., is third at 23.1 and New Orleans is fourth at 21.3.

A report by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, based on the CDC data, lists Baton Rouge’s and New Orleans’ ranks among different races.

Among black males of all ages, Baton Rouge ranks third with a rate of 178.6, the Office of Public Health report says. Among white males, Baton Rouge ranks 51st with a 15.5 rate.

New Orleans is 16th among black males and seventh among white males, the Office of Public Health report says.

For black females of all ages, Baton Rouge placed sixth and New Orleans 21st, the report says. Among white females, those ranks are fifth and 35th.

The Office of Public Health report also details Baton Rouge’s and New Orleans’ ranking among different age groups.

Those positions vary from Baton Rouge men ranking first in the 25 to 34 range, to New Orleans females ranking 15th for anyone between 45 and 54, according to the Office of Public Health report.

Baton Rouge women, however, are first in all four age range categories between 13 and 54, according to the Office of Public Health.

The CDC regularly publishes reports about AIDS diagnoses by metro area, but the report issued Jan. 10 represents HIV infection diagnoses.

Young, with the HIV/AIDS Alliance, said diagnosing HIV infections before AIDS manifests itself gives doctors a chance at treating the infection more effectively.

“By being able to detect HIV infection, we can get a clearer picture of those who are already infected,” Young said. “That could help us improve our targeted demographics.”

The best way to prevent HIV infection is to get tested and practice safe sex, Young said.

“If they are infected, they should seek treatment, and treatment can be provided for them if they cannot afford it for themselves,” Young said.