It's National HIV Testing Day and the virus that causes AIDS is a huge problem in the New Orleans area, especially for our children.
Louisiana ranks highest in the nation for people 13-24 years old with HIV.
Young people account for a third of all new HIV cases now and Dr. Fred Lopez with LSU Health Sciences Center Infectious Diseases says it's not really that surprising considering the statistics for high school students. "Almost half of them have had sexual intercourse at least once, and 40% of those roughly that are currently sexually active don't use condoms." He says that's considered high risk sexual behavior.
The federal government has designated today National HIV Testing Day in an effort to reduce infection rates and one of the biggest battles is right here in Louisiana, as New Orleans ranks third, and Baton Rouge second highest when it comes to the virus that cause AIDS for people of all ages.
The Center for Disease Control now recommends everyone get tested for HIV at least once in their life. "And if you continue to be engaged in high risk activities," he says, "You should get tested at least once a year, beginning at the age of 13."
Dr. Lopez says "The key to prevention is testing," and it's never too early to talk to your kids about other prevention methods for an individual, like using a condom. "Even the discussions around the vaccinations, like human papillomavirus, which is recommended routinely at ages 11 and 12, might provide a segue for discussion" for parents.