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Expert: Dating plans after divorce should include AIDS testing

The last thing a person might be looking to do immediately after a Louisiana divorce is launching into the dating scene. While the state has something of a reputation for having relatively easy and amicable divorces, that doesn't mean that the yearnings of those who go through them lightly turn to proverbial poetic thoughts of love.

The reality is that going through a divorce can have its stressful moments in the best of times. And in some cases, circumstances can be such that it can pose particular challenges regarding property division, child support and visitation. That's why the help of an experienced attorney is always recommended.

And there is perhaps one other reason that might give a newly divorced person pause about taking the plunge into the dating pool. Concern about the continuing spread of HIV and AIDs.

According to a recent headline in The Advocate, the estimated rate of HIV and AIDS in Baton Rouge is the highest of any city in the country. And New Orleans is said to rank third for HIV. It comes in fourth for the spread of AIDS. All this is happening despite the significant advances of recent years in tracking, treating and preventing the diseases.

That the story made the front page might be considered bad by some, but for some health care professionals it is welcomed. That's because they understand how prevalent the problem is and that the only way to address it is to keep the subject in the spotlight.

One nurse practitioner and nursing educator says HIV/AIDS has been off the radar of mainstream media for so long that some people think the problem has been wiped out. It hasn't, but this expert says many don't get tested or treated because they fear being stigmatized. She says that fear is unfounded. Testing is quick and private and treatment is available if it's needed.

She specifically suggests that individuals who may be thinking about dating again after divorce should plan to get tested. And she says they should not be shy about asking any new partner to get tested, too.

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