BATON ROUGE -The Louisiana Department of Health is offering no-cost HIV screenings Saturday, Nov. 27 for Bayou Classic attendees. This event is part of the health department's activities for World Aids Day, Dec. 1, 2010. LDH has partnered with OraSure Technologies, Inc., and the Kaiser Family Foundation's "Greater Than AIDS" movement to provide the no-cost screenings in the LDH Health Fair tent, which will be located in Champions Square outside the Louisiana Superdome from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on game day.
LDH is offering these screenings as part of health outreach to African-Americans, who make up just 32 percent of the state's population, yet represented 75 percent of Louisiana's new HIV cases last year. More African-Americans in Louisiana are infected with HIV than any other racial or ethnic group, reflecting a national trend. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that Baton Rouge ranked second and New Orleans third nationally in AIDS case rates in 2008.
"If people with HIV have the virus diagnosed early, they are able to receive treatment and care in advance to delay the onset of AIDS," said LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "Early diagnosis also gives us the opportunity to provide outreach and education, helping those with HIV better understand how they can avoid spreading the virus to others."
By providing testing, LDH hopes to increase awareness and acceptance of HIV testing, decrease of the stigma associated with HIV, and increase knowledge of how to prevent HIV transmission and its effects on Louisiana's communities. The tests will be private and confidential, and will be administered on-site by trained, certified counselors. The counselors will provide treatment referrals if necessary.
Orasure Technologies, Inc., the nation's leader in oral HIV testing, will provide OraQuick test kits for the screenings.The state-of-the-art oral test consists of a painless oral swab with results available in just 20 minutes.
"OraSure Technologies is very proud to partner with the Louisiana Department of Health and the Bayou Classic to promote HIV prevention and testing," said Ron Ticho, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, OraSure Technologies. "Our technology enables individuals to get their results at the time they test, and those who test positive can be immediately linked to care."
Partner health organizations also will offer blood pressure and glucose screenings at the health fair.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitativeservices for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.