The Baton Rouge metro area ranks No. 1 in the nation in its rate of AIDS cases after ranking second the past two years, according to 2010 data released Wednesday, March 14 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Baton Rouge has a rate of 33.7, which means 33 out of every 100,000 people have AIDS, the data show.
The CDC uses the U.S. Census Bureau's Metropolitan Statistical Area to define the Baton Rouge metro area. It consists of nine parishes: East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Livingston, and St. Helena.
Miami is second with a rate of 30.3; Jackson, Miss., is third with a rate of 29.2; and Baltimore is fourth with a rate of 26.8, according to the CDC data.
The New Orleans metro area is fifth with a rate of 26.2, according to the data.
Baton Rouge ranked second in the United States in 2011 and 2010 and third in 2009.
The Rev. A.J. Johnson, executive director and founder of the Baton Rouge AIDS Society, tells The Advocate the ranking does not come as a surprise to him considering Baton Rouge has ranked high for years.
Johnson said Baton Rouge needs to send ongoing messages about HIV and AIDS prevention to fight the problem.
Johnson said he would like to see faith-based communities become more involved in AIDS outreach and spread information about testing and prevention efforts in the city.
“I'm not talking about financial support—although we always need that—but for faith-based communities to start talking about HIV, especially in the black community,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the first thing people can do to prevent the spread of AIDS is get tested and “know your status.”
Tim Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, also said more people need to be educated about HIV and AIDS prevention and testing measures.
Young said people can get tested either by a family physician or at numerous testing sites in the city.