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LSU Mid City Clinic Honors World AIDS Day

Dawn Beasley, RN, to the left, and Drs. Madeleine Heck and Roxane Townsend

Baton Rouge -- The LSU Mid City Clinic, in Baton Rouge, honored World AIDS Day, on December 1, with a Balloon Release, free HIV rapid oral testing, raffles for gas cards, HIV education, refreshments and more.

The highly visible Balloon Release of 250 red balloons, a symbolic gesture to recognize the global fight against HIV and AIDS, immediately followed remarks from, among others, State Senator Yvonne Dorsey, Baton Rouge Metro City Council member Denise Marcelle, Dr. Fred Cerise, LSU System Vice President for Health Affairs and Medical Education and Dr. Roxane Townsend, CEO of Earl K. Long Medical Center.

LSU Health is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS healthcare in the metropolitan Baton Rouge area, known as Region 2. The LSU Health HIV/AIDS patient census in Region 2 is about 1400 and growing and ranges from newborns to senior citizens.

Region 2 ranks second in the nation for the number of new AIDS cases in large metropolitan areas and has the highest HIV case rate in the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Public Health STD/HIV Program – HIV/AIDS Surveillance Quarterly Report of June 30, 2011.

Staff gathered on the clinic lawn for the balloon release

In 2010, 26 percent of the new HIV cases diagnosed in Louisiana came from Region 2, which also exhibits a rapid growth of HIV/AIDS in the 13-to-24 year age group.

"We have recently had an opportunity to increase the availability of our pediatric/adolescent/young adult provider, Dr. Karen Williams, so that we may accommodate the newest population at risk for disease and a population that is of immense concern to us—those in the 13-to-24 age range," said Dr. Madeleine Heck, with LSU Health. "We have provided care for these patients for almost 20 years, and the painful truth is that prevention of infection is the key to controlling this devastating disease."

Up, up...

Representatives from the White House Office of National AIDS Policy visited Baton Rouge in late October to see how LSU Health is addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Region 2 and how it plans to meet the challenges of the national AIDS strategy, which includes reducing HIV incidence and HIV-related health disparities, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes.

The White House experts discussed with LSU Health staff the demographical information of the epidemic in Region 2 and the challenges and barriers faced in the delivery of services to those with HIV/AIDS. They commended LSU Health for its quality services and commitment to meeting the needs of its community.

...and away!

"We have been aggressive in working interactively with our Emergency Room, the Office of Public Health and with other community agencies to identify people both at risk of acquiring HIV and those already living with the disease in an effort to provide a medical home for care and to educate patients and families about strategies to prevent transmission," Dr. Heck said.

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, and a 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.