World AIDS Day event in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU Mid-City Clinic started Baton Rouge's World AIDS Day even one day early.

An old oak tree will now stand as a reminder to all who pass by that the fight against HIV and AIDS is far from over.

"I heard it stated that just as that tree has been through many things in its life, it's similar to the patients that come here," said Kerry Auzenne, who's living with HIV. "They go through many different things."

The issues people living with HIV and AIDS face are the inspiration behind LSU Mid City's world AIDS day theme: "Zero Takes a Community"---meaning zero discrimination for those living with the disease and zero new infections. Baton rouge leads the country for the most new HIV and AIDS cases per capita.  Doctors at the clinic say there is an alarming number of new cases everyday

"Something's not sticking. So I think we may have to revamp our efforts in terms of the patient population and the demographics that need to be education further," said Dr. Tatiana Saavedra with the LSU Mid City Clinic.

Some of those living with the disease say an uneducated public is detrimental in the fight against it. They say everyone needs to realize is the virus does not discriminate. Even married people are susceptible. Earl hicks who was diagnosed in 1992 after he found out his wife was HIV positive.

"My wife had preexisting conditions. Her kidneys failed, and she was on dialysis. I lost my wife on Valentine's day in '06 due to the virus," said Hicks.

Kerry Auzenne was diagnosed 7 years ago. He says people have got to push the rumors aside and instead be proactive.

"If you get tested, then we can get you treated. And eventually you'll get to a point where you're more educated about the virus. And that means you're less likely to spread the virus to someone else," said Auzenne.

HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two (HAART) is hosting "Picture a Perfect A World without HIV/AIDS". This cocktail-style fundraiser will feature our 2nd Annual HIV/AIDS Awareness Poster Contest and a Fashion Show highlighting local boutiques. The event will be held Saturday, December 1 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm at the downtown hot spot, The Office. For more information on this event, go to

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