WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) – The GO CARE Community Health Center took time to remember World Aids Day. Along with the ULM’s Pi Kappa Alpha chapter and local Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. chapters, the center created a labyrinth of 794 luminary bags in honor of the lives lost in northeast Louisiana.
“This is the day we are to remember those who lost their life to HIV,” says mark Windham, C.E.O. of GO CARE Community Health Center.
People also had the chance to light candles in honor of family members who are no longer here. “The candle represents that that love shines on and that those memories shine on and that we don’t ever want to forget the people who lost their lives to this epidemic,” Windham says.
Before that, officials shared information on the disease that they say is more prevalent here in the South.
That’s something Donna K. Hilltod, with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., says is important to get across to people in her community. “The incident rate of AIDS is higher in our African American community,” Hilltod says.
“So, we are concerned about illnesses and health issues that impact our community. That’s even more reason why we are focused on prevention and detection as well.”
So, they’re encouraging folks to break the stigma and get tested. “It’s estimated that one in five people in Louisiana who have HIV don’t know it,” Windham says.
Once it’s detected, GO CARE has support services available for people living with HIV.
“If someone tests positive for HIV, we can get you into care. We can get you started into medication regimen where you can achieve viral suppression. Once you receive viral suppression and reach undetectable status, you can’t transmit the virus to anyone else,” Windham says.
“We just want people to know that even though you have a diagnosis of HIV, you can live a long healthy productive life.”