Atlanta – HIV infections in Georgia dropped 6 percent each year from 2008 to 2014. According to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Georgia is among eight states whose infection rate dropped significantly during the six-year period. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) attributes the decline to effective prevention and treatment strategies.
“This is very encouraging news for Georgia as we work to eliminate HIV/AIDS in the state,” said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., director of Health Protection for DPH. “It also reinforces what we’ve said all along that linking patients with treatment is essential to reducing HIV transmission in Georgia.”
Research indicates an HIV-positive person is 96 percent less likely to pass the virus to others if they're adhering to an appropriate treatment regimen.
DPH plays a critical role in these efforts. The department’s Office of HIV/AIDS works to reduce the spread of HIV by promptly identifying HIV-positive clients and linking them to medical care and support services. Other programs focused on prevention are the Comprehensive HIV Prevention Program, the Ryan White Part B Program, and the Georgia Care and Prevention in the United States Initiative (CAPUS).
According to DPH's 2014 analysis, the number of persons living with HIV has steadily increased as a result of effective treatment. Since the development of highly-active antiretroviral therapy during the mid-1990s, deaths due to AIDS have declined substantially.
“DPH’s Office of HIV/AIDS will continue to set aggressive goals to further reduce HIV incidence in our most vulnerable populations,” said William Lyons, director, DPH Office of HIV/AIDS. “Initiatives to meet these goals include implementing the South's first statewide strategy addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men as well as expanding the HIV Linkage to Care Program.”
The CDC reports the number of annual HIV infections in the United States fell 18 percent between 2008 and 2014 — from an estimated 45,700 to 37,600. All states, and Washington, D.C., where CDC reports annual HIV infections declined significantly are:
Washington, D.C., 10 percent per year
Maryland about 8 percent per year
Pennsylvania about 7 percent per year
Georgia about 6 percent per year
New York and North Carolina each about 5 percent per year
Illinois about 4 percent per year
Texas about 2 percent per year
For information about the Office of HIV/AIDS, visit dph.georgia.gov/linkage-care or gacapus.com.