GA Voice - - Front Page -

HIV in­fec­tion re­mains a se­ri­ous pub­lic health is­sue in the state of Ge­or­gia. In 2015, Ge­or­gia was ranked the fifth-high­est in the na­tion for new HIV di­ag­noses, af­ter Florida, Cal­i­for­nia, Texas and New York. There were over 2,500 new di­ag­noses of HIV in 2015 in Ge­or­gia and the ma­jor­ity were men. The high­est per­cent­age of new HIV/AIDS di­ag­noses was seen among those aged 30 to 39. At­lanta ranked fifth among metro ar­eas for new HIV cases with a rate of 25.8 new di­ag­noses for ev­ery 100,000 res­i­dents — more than twice the na­tional rate.

Mon­i­tor­ing the HIV epi­demic and un­der­stand­ing the bur­den of HIV in Ge­or­gia are es­sen­tial for the 2020 Na­tional HIV/AIDS Strat­egy goals of re­duc­ing HIV in­fec­tions, in­creas­ing ac­cess to care and op­ti­miz­ing health out­comes for those with HIV, re­duc­ing HIV-re­lated health dis­par­i­ties and achiev­ing a more co­or­di­nated re­sponse to the epi­demic.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties to curb the rate of new in­fec­tions in Ge­or­gia in­clude:

Treat­ment as Pre­ven­tion (TasP): pre­scrib­ing an­tiretro­vi­ral med­i­ca­tions to those who are liv­ing with HIV in or­der to re­duce the amount of virus in their blood to un­de­tectable lev­els so that there is less risk of trans­mis­sion of HIV

In­creas­ing the num­ber of peo­ple who are tested for HIV and made aware of their di­ag­no­sis

Ac­cess to qual­ity health care, in­clud­ing in­surance coverage, med­i­ca­tion ac­ces­si­bil­ity and in­creas­ing the num­ber of qual­i­fied HIV providers avail­able to give care

Ad­dress­ing men­tal ill­ness and be­hav­ioral health is­sues, poverty, stigma, home­less­ness, food in­se­cu­rity, ho­mo­pho­bia and health lit­er­acy, which will help with bet­ter health out­comes and ac­cess to health care

Decrim­i­nal­iz­ing HIV, which will lead to more peo­ple be­com­ing aware of their di­ag­no­sis with­out fear of pros­e­cu­tion

Pre-ex­po­sure Pro­phy­laxis (PrEP): med­i­ca­tion, along with a com­pre­hen­sive pre­ven­tion strat­egy, to de­crease the risk of ac­quir­ing HIV

Aware­ness of PrEP among high-risk pop­u­la­tions must be in­creased and af­ford­abil­ity of this pro­gram must be ex­plained

There also is a need for in­creased provider aware­ness, knowl­edge and will­ing­ness to pre­scribe PrEP, along with com­fort­ably dis­cussing sex­ual health with an af­firm­ing and non-judg­men­tal ap­proach

As each of these fac­tors is ad­dressed, ac­cess to qual­ity care and treat­ment can be­come more en­sured, and we can move closer to end­ing the epi­demic. As HIV health­care providers, we work daily to en­sure that we move closer to these goals.

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