Thursday is National World Aids Day. The Macon-Bibb Health Department says they're stepping up to make sure people can get tested. Yvonne Thomas spoke to nurses who say you shouldn't let "the stigma" scare you, and that it's important to know your status.
Macon Bibb Health officials say as of 2015, a "large number" of people in Central Georgia have HIV. “There's about 2,138 people in the North Central District that are infected with HIV,” said Camille Watson, Macon-Bibb Health Supervisor.
Because many people can go months or years before being diagnosed with HIV, Watson said nearly one out of four people with HIV are also diagnosed with AIDS within three months. “We want to treat HIV like it's any other chronic illness,” said Watson,“So that people can live a long, healthy, and productive life.”
So to prove how simple it can be, these nurses took their own HIV tests in front of Yvonne Thomas. Watson said, “back in the day,” there was a two-week wait. Now, your results are ready in 20 minutes. “It was OK, didn't hurt at all,’ said nurse Patricia Williams. “I've drawn blood on a porch, inside of a car, it doesn't matter. We will go wherever we go, wherever the patient is at, that's called Public Health.”
STD testing can be tricky to talk about, but these nurses say they're here to help and make HIV testing a breeze for everyone.
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested at least once as apart of routine health care. Last year, the CDC reported that Georgia had the second-highest rate of adult HIV infections among the 50 states after Louisiana.