Title page for ETD etd-0411102-170458

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Gibson, Erica Brooke
URN etd-0411102-170458
Title The Changing Face of HIV/AIDS: An Anthropological and Epidemiological Study of the Baton Rouge Area
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography and Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Helen Regis Committee Chair
Andrew Curtis Committee Member
Miles Richardson Committee Member
  • louisiana
  • baton rouge
  • public health
  • aids
  • hiv
  • medical services
  • underserved communities
Date of Defense 2002-03-28
Availability unrestricted
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the resulting Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) became widespread in the early 1980ís. At the beginning of the epidemic, HIV/AIDS was affecting mainly gay men. As the disease began to spread, more diverse populations were affected. Now, two decades later, the face of HIV and AIDS has changed.

In the year 2000, the Baton Rouge area (which includes the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana) had the highest detected rate of HIV/AIDS cases in the state, and the 16th highest detected rate of HIV/AIDS cases in the nation. This study was developed to determine why the HIV/AIDS transmission rate is so high in the Baton Rouge area, what methods are being used to lower transmission rates and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and what needs to be done to bolster the efforts already underway.

Statistical data were collected from the Louisiana Office of Public Health to determine what populations were being affected by HIV/AIDS. Officials from HIV/AIDS community based organizations, public health clinics, universities, and governmental service organizations were interviewed to determine what is being done to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS. A survey was also developed to better understand the effects of HIV/AIDS on the people living with the disease.

The results of the study indicate that HIV/AIDS is spreading most rapidly in the African-American community, with 89% of all new cases reported in 2000 affecting African-Americans. The areas of prevention that are lacking include minority audiences, low-income areas, as well as education in public schools. One of the main concerns of people with HIV is the lack of health care options, as Earl K. Long Hospital is the only place to obtain free or low-cost treatment for HIV/AIDS. To better serve the HIV-positive community, and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, more funding should be directed towards prevention and towards healthcare. Also, the Baton Rouge community-at-large needs to be educated about HIV/AIDS so that a greater level of tolerance and understanding about the disease can be achieved.

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