For New Orleans, 2023 has been a year of bouncing and twerking toward zero new HIV cases, zero stigma and improved awareness, testing and prevention. The “Bounce to Zero” campaign launched in conjunction with last year’s World AIDS Day, December 1. A year later, the campaign celebrates its successes and redoubles its efforts to “reduce new HIV cases by 95% by 2030 and create a world with zero new HIV infections and zero people out of care.”
Today, on #WorldAIDSDay 35: Remember and Commit, we remember the struggles to end HIV stigma, honor those we have lost,…
“This milestone represents a year of dedicated efforts, community engagement and significant progress toward the ultimate goal of eradicating the HIV epidemic in our city,” said Jennifer Avegno, MD, director of the New Orleans Health Department, in a press statement.
Bounce to Zero is part of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative, which aims to reduce new HIV cases in the country by 75% by 2025 and by 90% by 2030. The city health department spearheads the campaign along with community members and health care leaders. It notes the campaign’s key accomplishments:
- Increased Awareness: Through targeted outreach and educational initiatives, the campaign has reached thousands of individuals, raising awareness about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
- Expanded Testing Access: “Bounce to Zero” has worked tirelessly to provide free at-home HIV testing. Increased testing has played a crucial role in early detection and timely intervention.
- Community Engagement: The campaign has fostered a sense of community by organizing events, workshops and support groups, creating safe spaces for open discussions about HIV, reducing stigma, streamlining entry to care and encouraging regular testing.
- Strategic Partnerships: Collaboration with local health care providers, government agencies and nonprofit organizations has strengthened the campaign’s impact, allowing for a more comprehensive, practical and effective approach to HIV prevention and care.
- Centralized Linkage: Implemented a streamlined entry to care and services system that reduces barriers to care and improves linkage to care and services.
“For over a decade, New Orleans has been in the top three for cities with the highest HIV infection rates,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Now, we are a national leader in creating dramatic improvements in testing [and] treatment and battling the cruel stigma people living with HIV experience. These successes and changes are saving lives, and we will continue doing our part to meet the needs of our people while improving the health and well-being of our community.”
In fact, 8,642 people are living with HIV in the New Orleans metropolitan area, accounting for 38% of Louisiana’s HIV population.
The campaign has hosted numerous events throughout the year, notably during the HIV Weeks of Awareness around World AIDS Day. Events included an HIV and AIDS empowerment brunch, a Women and HIV Ministers breakfast, a World AIDS Day Vigil and Kourtyard Karaoke. Friday, December 8 the campaign hosts World AIDS Day Drive-In Cinema with a screening of the documentary Stories From the Quilt at St. Thomas Community Health Center at 6 p.m.
In addition to events, the campaign includes education, testing, social media outreach and a U=U element that promotes the fact that folks with HIV who maintain and undetectable viral load don’t transmit the virus. Below is a video with Bounce to Zero ambassador James:
“Together, we can build on this first year’s momentum and make even greater strides toward a New Orleans with zero new HIV infections,” said Vatsana Chanthala, director of Ryan White Services and Resources, a division of the city’s health department that focuses on HIV services and public health. “Please go to BounceToZero.com. You can help us to end the HIV epidemic in our community. Pledge your support to oppose stigma and discrimination.”