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HIV services are
still hampered in New Orleans

HIV services are
still hampered in New Orleans

The devastating effects of last summer's Hurricane Katrina are still being felt among New Orleans's HIV patients, who face difficulties accessing physicians, clinics, and treatment programs, TheTimes-Picayune reports. About half of Louisiana's 15,000 HIV patients lived in New Orleans before the hurricane struck, according to state health officials,

Nearly all of the city's HIV treatment centers were adversely affected, including the primary outpatient clinic at New Orleans's Charity Hospital, which provided care to about 3,500 city residents and now can serve only about 1,200. Most of the of the satellite clinics and pharmacies that supply antiretroviral drugs in the city have remained closed since the hurricane nearly 11 months ago.

Noel Twilbeck, executive director of the city's NO/AIDS Task Force, says his organization has seen the health of many HIV patients deteriorate since the hurricane because of inadequate HIV care in the city. He also says that about half of the city's HIV-positive residents have not returned to New Orleans after evacuating the city in August, and he worries that many may not have accessed care and treatment programs since leaving.

"Those that are out of care--that's one of the largest concerns that we have," he told The Times-Picayune. "If people can't get to their prescriptions, they are at risk of the virus possibly mutating and becoming resistant to medication." (The Advocate)

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