A nonprofit is offering free HIV testing during an event Monday in Port Allen that organizers hope spurs a greater conversation on preventing the spread of HIV.
The event, hosted by the Louisiana Tri-Parish Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the West Baton Rouge Community Center in Port Allen. It will feature speakers, free HIV testing and prizes, as well as a candlelight vigil memorializing AIDS victims and a balloon release.
Event organizer Courtney Brooks said the event aims to spread awareness and arm attendees with tools to prevent of HIV and AIDS by touching on its devastating impacts globally and in the capital region.
Baton Rouge has among the highest rates of new AIDS diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. City there officials recently announced a significant drop in new cases following more attention on steering HIV patients toward treatment.
Brooks said she also hopes opening up a conversation about HIV and AIDS will help reduce the stigma and discomfort of talking about sexual health.
“We want to connect with people and let them know they can prevent someone else from dying or catching it,” Brooks said. “Sometimes people don’t realize it'll happen to them, and then it does."