The pace in which HIV is spreading worldwide is alarming especially for Atlanta according to Dr. Carlos del Rio, the co-director of Emory University’s Center for AIDS Research.
According to the doctor, one child out of two classes of children will contract HIV.
During a statement made in Atlanta, the doctor also compared the HIV epidemic in downtown Atlanta to countries in Africa, saying,
“Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban.
This is not Africa, we have resources.”
Del Rio said the disease shifted from one that mainly affected gay men and drug users in the late ’80s to a disease that now affects just about every population, but in particular African-Americans with limited access to health care.
J.R. Watson is a towering man, and the only hair on his head is a handle-bar mustache.
Just by looking at him, you’d never know he has AIDS. He recalled the moment he found out he was positive 20 years ago.
“I sat there and literally cried like a baby for 30 to 45 minutes,”
Watson told Huddleston.
He contracted HIV from a woman he was dating.
He told Huddleston his story hoping to keep young people from making a potentially lethal mistake.
“All it took was that one time with that wrong person to change your life forever,”
“It doesn’t matter who you are, just because you live in a nice neighborhood, just because you’re alive outside of Atlanta.”
But if you live in the capitol city, AIDS research officials said the number of people effected is staggering.
According to a study conducted by the CDC in 2014, Atlanta ranked fifth in United States for new HIV infections.
In the year of 2014, Atlanta’s population was just pushing 10 million people.
Another study from the CDC predicts that one If you live in the southeast, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than any other part of the country and in Georgia the risk of diagnosis leaps to one in 51.
“We should not be having an epidemic of that proportion in a country like ours,”
del Rio said.
“This is not Africa, we have resources.”
That is a pretty alarming projection.
The ways of contracting HIV are not just strictly limited to sexual intercourse, as a Fulton County, Georgia reported that heightened heroin usage in Atlanta could lead to a wider spread of the disease.
A 2015 Fulton County internal audit of their HIV Prevention Program cited poor management after the county squandered millions of CDC grant dollars meant for HIV programs.
Ultimately the county had to return millions to the CDC.
“Well it certainly was a bruised eye,”
said Fulton County Chairman John Eaves.
Fulton County now has a new public health director and HIV programs like mobile testing units are more visible around the city.
The van travels to ZIP codes with the highest number of HIV cases.
Watch the video below.