HIV rate drops 6 percent in Georgia

HIV rates drop 6 percent in Ga.

HIV rates in Georgia are on the decline.

According to the CDC, from 2008 to 2014, the number of new cases dropped 6 percent.

Gabrielle Dawkins dug deeper and tried to figure out how the number dropped.

Erica Griffin, a Macon native, says that 30 years ago when doctors diagnosed her with HIV, she took it pretty hard.

"When I found out about my diagnosis, I was 20," said Griffin. "I closed up for 13 of those years. I was like, 'Everybody knows.'"

She says another downfall was the amount of medication.

"There were so many pills that one person had to take, and I understand the, 'I'm tired of taking pills,' because that's 20 pills, but now it's just one pill," said Griffin.

Jeffrey Stephens, a physician at the Hope Center, says that the decline stems from many factors including safer sex, people knowing their status, and drugs like Prep, that can be taken to lower the risk of getting HIV.

"I think because we do have preventative medicine for those that are negative and also that we are getting people's viruses quieter, and we have a long way to go in the country to meet the World Health Organization goal in the future," said Stephens.

According to the CDC, nationwide, there's a 56 percent decline in people who inject drugs, 36 percent decline among heterosexuals and 26 percent decline in gay and bisexual men aged 35 to 44.

He says that a quieter virus won't damage your immune system and there's less chance of spreading the virus to someone else.

"When we check for the viral load in the blood, it's undetectable, and so that's the goal of HIV therapy, to get the virus quiet in the blood," said Stephens.

Upon being diagnosed, Griffin shifted into an advocate and now helps people diagnosed cope.

"This is why I recommend people get tested so they actually find out what their status is," says Griffin.

If you're interested in free testing, contact the North Central Health District. Call 1-866-782-4584.

 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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