St. Landry

Jun 28, 2011 9:56 PM by Shawn Kline

HIV Testing in Opelousas

A statewide tour comes to Opelousas raising awareness about one of the nation's most devastating diseases.
1.2-million carry it in the united states alone. Nearly half of all those cases found right here in the south- and in Louisiana, 16,000 people are affected.

"Especially here in Louisiana, it's having a great impact," Jack Carrel said.

We're talking about HIV and AIDS.

"It's impacting this state much more than other states," Carrel said.

Jack Carrel joins Louisiana > AIDS; a group hitting the road to tour the state-- ending in New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival.

"Greater than AIDS originally started to target the African American population as we make up half the HIV and AIDS cases." Marvelyn Brown says, "when you have large quantities of African Americans in one place at one time, we need that presence there."

Brown was diagnosed with HIV when she was 19. She's now along for the ride to New Orleans- telling her story every step of the way.

"One of the hardest things for people living with HIV is the stigma that they face, the isolation because we're still human." Brown says, "HIV does not define us- it's just something that we have."

Opelousas is the fourth stop on the tour, offering free HIV testing before getting back on the road to visit Baton Rouge and New Orleans-- two cities with some of the nation's highest HIV rates.

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