NELA woman taking her HIV research to D.C.

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - A northeast Louisiana HIV awareness activist is trying to jump-start the conversation about HIV and AIDS in rural America.

Monica Johnson has been living with HIV since 1984. She said she was infected through a blood transfusion at a local hospital. It's a fact that Johnson said surprises some people because many are still unclear on how HIV can be transmitted.

"In 2017 I still have people ask 'can I get it from a mosquito bite?’” she said. β€œIt's HUMAN Immunodeficiency Virus. So a mosquito is not human."

That's why she founded Heroes, an organization focused on improving the physical, economic, and social health of people impacted by HIV and AIDS in rural Louisiana.

She says she also conducted the first research to ever contrast HIV cases in metropolitan areas with those in rural areas. She says people in rural areas are often left without treatment, but she's trying to change that.

This week she's going to the United States Conference on AIDS in Washington D.C. to talk about HIV and AIDS in rural communities. She's hoping to use our area to help the entire country.

The South has 52 percent of the all new AIDS diagnoses in the U.S. Johnson says that looking at rural areas is the only way to accomplish their goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.