ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Atlanta fourth in the country for new HIV diagnoses within certain populations. The staggering statistic is why Atlanta city leaders say now is the time to fix the city's HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston was at a meeting with city leaders on Thursday. He has been following this story for about two years now.
Local health officials said African-American men and women in Atlanta are disproportionately impacted by the epidemic.
In 2016, Channel 2 Action News spoke to an AIDS specialist who compared the problem to that of a third world country.
A year later, in 2017, the CDC said the epidemic wasn't getting any better.
On Thursday, Georgia Equality director Jeff Graham told Channel 2 Action News awareness and funding continue to be an issue contributing to the continued epidemic.
"I started speaking on HIV issues, before it was HIV," he said.
HIV and AIDS cases have decreased in most populations except for young African-American teens and young people.
"Because for their lives, things have not changed that much. That is the crisis we have," Graham said.
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"Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban," Dr. Carlos del Rio, the co-director for the Emory Center for AIDS research, said in 2016.
Emory University doctors told Huddleston HIV and AIDS was growing in Atlanta because of a lack of adequate healthcare and a lack of leadership. Two years later, several groups, including the mayor and Council President Felicia Moore, said Atlanta has to act, and now.
"We are not as a city, have not been addressing it and making sure we get the word out there," Moore said.
Moore said city leaders have often taken a back seat, hoping larger agencies would do most of the work. She says no more.
"I think we've also kind of ceded to the state as well as Fulton County, who deals with health and human services, hoping they could do it. But we need to make sure as one city in all of Fulton County, where most of the cases lie, that we make sure we make it a priority in the city of Atlanta," she explained.
City leaders and community advocates say housing for AIDS patients also has to be a priority. They hope federal dollars will help, but so far nothing from Washington D.C.
Cox Media Group