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LSU Mid City Clinic Dedicates Live Oak in Recognition of World AIDS Day

Beside a bus stop at a busy Mid City intersection, the oak will be a constant reminder of the need for HIV testing.
Beside a bus stop at a busy Mid City intersection, the oak will be a constant reminder of the need for HIV testing.

Baton Rouge The LSU Mid City Clinic dedicated a live oak in recognition of World AIDS Day on the clinic campus on Friday, November 30. Large, sturdy and mature, the tree symbolizes the enduring dedication of LSU Health in the fight against AIDS. Its location, beside a bus stop and at the busy intersection of N. Foster Drive and Gus Young Avenue in Baton Rouge, will be a constant reminder of this fight and of the need for HIV testing as a critical part of the fight.

The ceremony was part of the clinic's World AIDS Day Health Fair. The fair's theme, "Zero Takes a Community," refers to zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination for those with HIV/AIDS and zero AIDS-related deaths.

"For the community to reach zero, people must know their HIV status," said Dr. Tatiana Saavedra, with LSU Health. "If they have fallen out of HIV care, they can best meet their healthcare needs by returning to care and staying in care."

More than 30 community and government agencies, healthcare providers and local businesses participated in the event. Free testing for glucose level, blood pressure, cholesterol, syphilis and HIV was available. Everyone who completed all parts of the free health testings being offered at the fair was eligible to enter a raffle for a 40 inch HD TV. Other raffles were held throughout the event for gift cards and items donated from local businesses.

Community and government agencies and healthcare providers offered information at the foot of the oak on the services they provided.
Community and government agencies and healthcare providers offered information at the foot of the oak on the services they provide.

Metropolitan Baton Rouge ranked first in the nation for estimated AIDS case rates for the largest metropolitan areas in 2010, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Public Health "STD/HIV Program HIV/AIDS Surveillance Quarterly Report" of June 30, 2012.

LSU Health is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS healthcare in metro Baton Rouge, known as the Baton Rouge Transitional Grant area. It includes the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana.

The LSU Health Baton Rouge HIV/AIDS active patient census is about 1,450 and growing and ranges from newborns to senior citizens. LSU is also pursuing several hundred patients in metro Baton Rouge who should resume their healthcare.

In 2011, 1,300 new HIV cases and 795 new AIDS cases were diagnosed in Louisiana, according to the report. Twenty-five percent, or 319, of the new HIV cases and 29 percent, or 227, of the new AIDS cases diagnosed in Louisiana came from metro Baton Rouge. Overall, 4,888 persons are currently living with HIV/AIDS in metro Baton Rouge.

The 13-to-24 year age group exhibits a rapid growth of HIV/AIDS in metro Baton Rouge. To address this growth, LSU Health has a physician dedicated to this pediatric /adolescent/young adult population. LSU Health has provided care to this population for nearly 20 years.

LSU Health offers a multidisciplinary approach to HIV healthcare with a dedicated team of primary care providers, nursing staff, psychology externs, social workers, nurse aides, clerical staff, clinical pharmacist and patient navigator.

To meet the holistic needs of its patient population, LSU Health staff collaborates daily with AIDS organizations to provide additional services, such as housing, transportation, individual, group and substance abuse counseling and financial assistance with medical copayments and for emergencies.