Viewpoint: March 28, 2012

Recently, we received some somber news. Baton Rouge now ranks number one in the nation per capita for AIDS cases. The Centers for Disease Control says 33 out of every 100,000 people in our area are newly diagnosed with AIDS.

It's been a steady climb for Baton Rouge in the national rankings, having ranked 3rd in 2009 and 2nd the following two years. So, even more disturbing than the number of citizens in our community dealing with this deadly disease, is that efforts over the last several years to protect and prevent the spread of HIV have fallen short.

Precautions can be taken to prevent the spread of HIV. The first and most important step is to get tested. Knowing that you are HIV-positive gives you the ability to protect your own health and the health of your partners and children. Visit and you can enter your ZIP code to receive a list of  testing sites, including those that offer free HIV tests.

AIDS was first diagnosed about 30 years ago and there is still no cure. But, personal awareness can go a long way in reversing a dangerous trend.