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New Orleans DJ, Crescent Care team up to get more people tested for HIV

HIV testing dropped drastically in Louisiana when lockdown began and it’s still not back to pre-covid levels.

NEW ORLEANS — When the world turned it’s focus to stopping the spread of COVID-19, the HIV epidemic didn’t stop.

The Center for Disease Control says that before the pandemic began, Louisiana had one of the highest rates of HIV in the country. And with the immediate need for more COVID testing, HIV testing took a back seat.

A recent study published by The Lancet shows that HIV testing dropped more than 50% in New Orleans from 2019 to 2020. Pre-pandemic, an estimated 13% of new HIV cases were undiagnosed, according to The Lancet. Now, they believe around 40% of new HIV infections are unaccounted for.

Those undiagnosed HIV cases are people who aren’t getting the treatment they need, could spread the virus and, ultimately, are much more likely to die because of it.

DJ RQAway wants to change that.

He’s teaming up with Crescent Care to provide free HIV testing at his show “Lagniappe” at Tipitina’s this Saturday.

"All of my events have been about access, creating access to quality events for young black people in New Orleans. Every single one,” DJ RQAway, whose given name is Jevon Thompson, said. “This particular one we have the added access of being able to check out your sexual health."

It’s an event DJ RQAway has hosted for years, because even without COVID-19, there has always been social stigmas that stopped people from getting tested for HIV.

That’s why he always makes a point of stepping up and getting tested first.

"When we're in here on Saturday night it's a community. No matter who you are who you walked in with, who you didn't walk in with it's a community,” he said. “So, to watch other pieces of your community step outside, get a test real quick and come back to the party, why wouldn't that make it easier for you to do the same thing?"

It’s a chance for the community to come together after two years of isolation and continue the fight against HIV and AIDs, as well as the stigmas around it.

“Lagniappe” is set for this Saturday, April 9, at Tipitina’s. The doors open at 10 p.m. and the show starts at 11. Crescent Care will also being taking donations of canned food and toiletries at the door for their food pantry. If you bring a donation, you’ll get a discount on the price of admission.

Rapid HIV testing and take home tests are also available at Crescent Care year-round. For information, visit their website.

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