Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Louisiana has some of the highest number of HIV cases in the United States, and News Orleans has the 3rd highest rate of HIV cases in the nation.

And because education and prevention are the key to avoiding becoming infected with HIV or AIDS, area church leaders are learning how to do just that in order to help their communities.

Thursday, leaders of local churches are being trained on how to talk to their parishioners about being protected against HIV.

New Orleans and Baton Rouge have two of the fastest growing HIV rates in the country, currently ranked two and three in the United States, and because of the rates, there have been a lot of efforts locally to curb those numbers.

The NAACP and local churches have a long history of tackling social issues and this program gives the tools to local churches on how to start the conversation around preventing and dealing with HIV and AIDS.

According the Center for Disease Control, the black community bears the brunt of HIV and AIDS cases in America, and rates continue to grow eight times faster for African Americans than for any other race.

Right now the United States has over a million people living with the disease, with about 50,000 new cases reported each year, and in Louisiana, 1,000 new AIDS cases are reported each year.

The NAACP's goal is to target those at risk for HIV and AIDS, and join with communities to begin the conversation on how to help prevent the spread of the disease.

The program will be held later Thursday at the NAACP branch and will feature workshops as well as one-on-one mentoring.

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