The Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network held a general meeting to set the stage for what happens next.
It was also a big day for Shreveport resident Eric Evans. He is nominated to be one of the co-chairs of the group. This is the first time someone from the Northern part of the state has been selected.
“We are pushing for updated laws that were written back in the 80’s that no longer apply to today’s situations,” Evans said.
Evans has been working with AIDS advocacy in Louisiana for three years. He said it is important to end the stigma that’s associated with HIV/AIDS.
“This has become a chronic, manageable disease. It's not the death sentence that it used to be.”
According to the CDC, in the U.S. there are 32-percent of adults/adolescents that are diagnosed with AIDS within 12 months of initial HIV infection diagnosis. In Louisiana, that number is 36-percent.
But, Evans said the disease has become a minor problem in a lot of people’s lives.
“We use aids as kind of a secondary thing because you can be HIV positive without having AIDS,” he said.
Darlene Robertson has been infected with HIV since 1989. She said when she first found out, she was in complete denial.
“Because back then if you got AIDS, you were probably dead within two years,” Robertson said.
One of the main concerns of the AIDS advocates that attended the meeting was that due to budget cuts, money in the state budget dedicated to HIV/AIDS has been removed.
“It is scary because without my medication, I will die,” Robertson said.
Both Evans and Robertson emphasized how important it is that there is medication available for people who are HIV positive.
“We’ve gotten to a stage now with HIV, with the advances and the medication and treatments, people are living longer, healthier lives,” said Evans.