AIDS Council hosts open house

December 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm Leave a comment

*published Dec. 2, 2009

Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council case manager Candice Pauley shows Andie Hoeflicker some of the literature available at the agency during their open house in observation of World AIDS Day on Tuesday. BY KAREN E. WINK

Looks to spread word about services
In the five-parish area this year, 1,180 new cases of HIV/ AIDS have been reported, according to statistics compiled by the state Department of Health and Hospitals.

For World AIDS Day on Tuesday the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council, at 1715 Common St., hosted an open house to let area residents “know we are here and the services we offer,” said program director Kelli Barnes.

Barnes said some people still believe HIV/AIDS is a gay disease or only prevalent in Africa.

DHH’s quarterly survey says that as of last September, 430 people have died of AIDS in the Region 5 area and 903 people are living with HIV or AIDS.

Region 5 consists of Allen, Beauregard, Cameron, Calcasieu and Jeff Davis parishes.

Of those living with HIV/AIDS, 58 percent are black, 32 percent are white, and the remaining 10 percent are Hispanic, Indian or Asian. Twenty-two percent are female, and 77 percent are male.

“I always tell people, ‘HIV doesn’t play,’ ” said Gilbert Brown, a prevention outreach counselor with SLAC. “It doesn’t care about your sex or race or age.”

Brown has been working with SLAC full time since April, but started volunteering as a student at McNeese. When people come in for testing, he lets them know that the test is anonymous.

“We are held to the same oaths as a doctor. I go so far as to lock the door (in my office) when we are talking,” Brown said.

“I have to ask them questions about their sexual behavior, so their honest answers is what we use to create a risk prevention plan.”

The AIDS council uses a mouth swab test that takes about 20 minutes. If a person is negative, Brown and the client then develop a prevention plan. If a person tests positive in the initial visit, Brown performs a second test, which is sent to the state lab for analysis.

“Results take about a week, and we always call the person in, regardless of the results,” Brown said.

In discussing prevention methods, Brown said there are adults who don’t know about female condoms or how to properly use them.

Do you know the first step when using a male condom? Always check the expiration date, Brown said.

SLAC has case managers who specialize in different areas for clients, such as finding out what services are available under patients’ health plans. The council’s phone number is 439-5861.



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