Atlanta Ranks 3rd Highest in the US with HIV Infection Cases

Metro Atlanta is one of the largest HIV hotspots in the country.

In 2021, the metro area had the third-highest incidence of new HIV infections in the US, with over 1,500 cases reported. Memphis and Miami were the only places to rank higher, according to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Metro Atlanta had more than half of all new HIV diagnoses in Georgia that year. In addition, Fulton and DeKalb counties had the highest and second-highest rates of new infections in the US, with almost 50 cases per 100,000 people.

“These numbers serve as a reminder that much work still needs to be done to end the HIV epidemic in Atlanta,” said Jeff Cheek, director of the Fulton County Department for HIV Elimination, in a statement to WABE.

The department, originally known as Ryan White, focuses on delivering medical treatment to low-income, uninsured, or underfunded HIV patients in metro Atlanta.

AIDSVU reported that 83.2% of 2021 cases in metro Atlanta were caused by male-to-male sexual contact, with approximately 73% of those diagnosed being Black.

Georgia’s total HIV rates are among the highest in the country, at 59,490, with the South area accounting for more than half of new infections (18,728), according to the CDC.

Cheek stated that these disturbing results demonstrate the need for greater urgency in delivering preventative tools and resources to Georgia residents, including pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“And that persons living with HIV are connected with culturally competent care and support services as soon as possible,” he went on to say. “We must also address those barriers that keep people from care such as lack of insurance, the need for food and housing, and mental health and substance abuse services.”

Cheek and the Department for HIV Elimination just unveiled a new client-centered website to make life easier for HIV patients. The website discovers nearby service providers based on location, provides full descriptions of their services, and displays provider ratings.

“Clients will see that they have a choice in their HIV care, as well as access to educational videos to feel more empowered and supported with their healthcare options,” Cheek stated in a press release.

The Fulton Department for HIV Elimination now funds 23 agencies and provides additional financing for related support services such as non-medical case management, daycare, transportation assistance, and food banks.

Last month, Atlanta LGBTQ advocates celebrated the opening of a new HIV clinic in Midtown. The clinic also provides comprehensive sexual health treatment and social support services to its predominantly Black homosexual male patient base.



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