2015 World AIDS Day Inspires Action to Combat HIV/AIDS in Georgia

December 1, 2015

December 1 marks the 27th annual World AIDS Day.

The 2015 theme, “The Time to Act is Now,” is encouraging people to commit to achieving an AIDS-free generation.

AIDS, also known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the final stage of HIV infection. Unlike other viruses, the body cannot get rid of HIV and there is no safe and effective cure currently available.

The HIV Prevention Program at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is working to reduce the number of cases in Georgia. This year’s theme lines up with some of the programs most prominent public health interventions — get those that are affected into care and educate others to prevent spreading the virus.

Gregory Felzien, M.D., AAHIVS, medical advisor to the Division of Health Protection IDI-HIV Unit at DPH, explains that World AIDS Day is an opportunity to bring HIV/AIDS to the forefront, particularly to focus on the impact HIV/AIDS has on local communities.

“It’s time to dispel the myths that HIV/AIDS is no longer an issue and does not affect rural communities,” said Dr. Felzien. “We need to begin having open and honest discussions throughout the state in order to make HIV/AIDS a rare disease in Georgia, throughout the United States and around the world.”

Currently, there are an estimated 50,000 Georgians who are HIV positive and more than 40 percent who are not in care. With this number continuing to rise, it is vital to increase awareness and education efforts regarding HIV/AIDS.

There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but with the right medication and treatment the virus can be managed. DPH recently released a toolkit on the use of PreExposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a once-daily pill for individuals who are HIV negative and are at risk for contracting the virus. Through consistent and proper use, research shows that PrEP, as part of a comprehensive prevention plan (appropriate testing, condom use, etc.), is effective in reducing the risk of getting HIV. 

To find testing locations or more World AIDS Day events near you, visit DPH online. For assistance with determining Ryan White eligibility and gaining access to important HIV/AIDS resources, visit the GA CAPUS website, the one-stop online connection to HIV care in Georgia. 

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