Recent revelations about the rate of HIV infection by the Centers for Disease Control have shocking implications across Georgia and in Atlanta specifically. According to the CDC, 1 in 51 Georgians will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. A shocking revelation made worse by the statement from Dr. Carlos Del Rio from the Emory University Center for AIDS Research who stated, “Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban.”
The study was initially presented by the CDC in February and was called “the first-ever comprehensive national estimates of the lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis for several key populations at risk and in every state.” In the study, Blacks continue to be the most affected group with 1 in 20 men and 1 in 48 women being diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
The other facts presented in the report are sobering:
1) People living in Washington, D.C. (1 in 13), Maryland (1 in 49), Georgia (1 in 51), Florida (1 in 54), Louisiana (1 in 56) and other parts of the region the CDC defines as the South had the highest risk.
2) Men who have sex with men had a 1 in 6 risk while heterosexual men had a 1 in 473 risk.
3) There were marked differences in the risk among men who have sex by men depending on their race or ethnicity. Black men who have sex with men had a 1 in 2 risk, Hispanic men a 1 in 4 risk and white men a 1 in 11 risk.
Overall, the Deep South leads with the highest rate of infection. This combined with Black high unemployment, poverty and lack of healthcare is leading to what is being called “a perfect storm” for AIDS in the Black community. The impact of the drug Truvada has become more relevant as it is the only proven drug that prevents HIV infection. The pill is marketed to young gay men, persons in a relationship with an HIV infected partner and sex workers. From January 2011 to March 2013, over 1,774 people have filled prescriptions for Truvada. This number does not include several thousands who are in clinical trials for Truvada. Surprisingly, 50 percent of the prescriptions issued were for women. The rate of HIV infection is not slowing with over 50K new infections per year. These statistics include over 50 percent of men with a high number of these men being Black.