Atlanta has a lot going for it. It’s the home of Coca-Cola, it’s hosted an Olympics, and it has the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Museum. One of the problems city officials are loath to talk about however, is the increase in STD rates, including HIV. The entire nation has seen a historic uptick in rates. The South though is the one region that’s been the most impacted. Places in the region where the HIV infection rate is high include Maryland, Washington, D.C., Louisiana, and Florida. One in 51 Georgians will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their life, according to a 2016 CDC report. Dr. Coarlos Del Rio of Emory University says that downtown Atlanta has as bad a HIV crisis as Harare, Zimbabwe. African-Americans are the most effected group. One in 20 men and one in 48 women have received an HIV diagnosis. Among them, black millennials are the most at-risk.
Director of the Dekalb County Board of Health, Dr. Sandra Ford, says that syphilis has seen a dramatic rise in the Peach State. While the statistics are concerning, there’s actually a ray of hope. Testing is also up, according to city public health officials. Dr. Ford decries that many millennials feel invincible. She says her own teenage son has this attitude. She’s even heard people of this age group in health clinics say that HIV is “Just a virus.” Now that it’s a manageable disease, it isn’t feared as it once was. Those with HIV can live relatively normal lives. She’d even heard some young people purposely getting infected, in order to take advantage of housing benefits and others. Of course, having HIV even though it’s manageable, opens one up to all kinds of health risks. It also begs constant, lifelong attention or else it can become life-threatening. Be sure and protect yourself from STDs and get tested periodically. A screening every 12 months through a doctor or urologist is recommended.