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August 19, 2008

HIV/AIDS in Georgia’s Rural, Black Communities

HIV/AIDS advocates in Georgia say that their inability to provide effective prevention, testing and counseling services to African-American and rural populations is driving new infection rates, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Widespread stigma directed at LGBT people and those living with the virus is keeping many residents from discussing HIV openly.

“If you’re black and a gay man, you’re not even looked at as a man,” says Hartsel Shirley, a 39-year-old HIV-positive Atlanta resident. “If you have HIV, you’re almost not human.”

According to the article, African Americans made up 71 percent of people living with HIV in Georgia in 2006, even though they make up just 30 percent of the general population. That year alone, 79 percent of residents diagnosed with HIV were African American.

Compounding the issue further, says Cathalene Teahan, president of the Georgia AIDS Coalition, is abstinence-centered sex education in the state’s public schools.

“No one can use the word condom now,” Teahan told the newspaper.

Search: Georgia, Georgia AIDS Coalition, African American

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