Posted: Apr 8, 2011 5:10 PM by Sarah Rosario
Updated: Apr 8, 2011 5:10 PM
BATON ROUGE - The United Nations has set a long term goal to eradicate AIDS by aiming for zero new HIV infections, and AIDS related deaths. That's a tall order, especially in Baton Rouge.
Dr. Rani Whitfield said even if there was a cure the goal set by the UN is not realistic. He said there is no way to avoid new infections because of people's behavior. He said as long as people continue to practice unsafe behavior and remain uneducated about the virus it will continue to spread.
The biggest behaviors adding to the problem include IV drug abuse; unprotect sex, and multiple sex partners. Dr. Whitfield said there are thousands of people living in the United States who are not tested and have no idea that they have the disease. He said the best way to lower the number of people infected is by raising awareness.
Joyce Turner Keller found out she has aids 10 years ago. She agrees with Dr. Whitfield about raising awareness. She started a non profit organization called "Aspirations." She and a group of 24 people do daily outreach to educate others about the realities of HIV and AIDS. Turner Keller practiced ministry for 41 years. She now takes her message from the pulpit to the public.
Baton Rouge is ranked number two in the nation behind Miami in newly diagnosed AIDS cases. New Orleans follows close behind at third.
"We can't cure the common cold so what makes me think we can get rid of HIV all together. I don't think that will ever happen," said Whitfield.
Whitfield's advice is for law makers to improve access to care, prescription drug benefits and to raise awareness.
The United Nations has not set a time frame for meeting its goals.