SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – National HIV Testing Day is on Thursday, June 27th and News 3 is digging deeper into the numbers locally across the Coastal Empire and Georgia as a whole.
It’s a national conversation that has shifted since the beginning of the HIV Epidemic in the 1980s. Though the number of cases nationwide have lowered, in the last 30 years, it’s still prevalent in the south.
“The South is having the biggest impact right now. 52% of the cases nationwide in 2017 came from the south,” said Susan Alt, The Director of HIV Services at Chatham County Health.
“A lot of it has been discounted and people think it’s gone, and even if you get it, you take a pill everyday and that’s it. That’s true, but my answer to that is you take medication for the rest of your life. As it stands right now, the medication is anywhere between 3 and 6 thousand dollars a month so it’s still a major health issue,” said Alt.
Alt says the cases are disproportionately higher among African-Americans.
“The disproportionate representation of African Americans is very alarming. 77% of the new diagnosis and new cases in Georgia were men but we’re still seeing cases in women,” said Alt.
Alt says when it comes to HIV, prevention is ideal but treatment is now far more advanced.
“We’ve come a long way. Back in the old days of the epidemic it was for the most part a death sentence and people were not going to live very long. Now we have much better drug therapies available often patients consume one pill a day and live a long healthy and productive normal life expectancy.”