Metro city taking proactive actions to protect people from getting HIV

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there were 2,593 new HIV diagnoses in the state in 2016. The latest available data is for 2017 when there was an increase to 2,698 new cases.

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — A metro city is taking steps to fight the number of HIV cases in the community.

Channel 2's Dave Huddleston received a number of calls since his special report about HIV hot spots aired Monday.

One of those calls brought him to the city of South Fulton, where they are taking proactive steps to keep people safe.

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According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there were 2,593 new HIV diagnoses in the state in 2016. The latest available data is for 2017 when there was an increase to 2,698 new cases.

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At Creel Park, off Creel Road, every Monday people can get tested for HIV free of charge.

"I've been pretty much doing the testing since I've been a part of Aniz," said screener Myles Mason, with Aniz Inc. "From the ages of 13 to 30, they're the No. 1 diagnosis. So, for me, I feel it's very important."

Emory University associate professor Aaron Siegler is part of a project called AIDSVU that tracks HIV cases in Georgia and around the nation.

AIDSVU shows that Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton and Rockdale counties have some of the highest HIV rates in the country.

The city of South Fulton says it wants that to change.

"I thought this would be a great first start when I saw the map," said South Fulton Councilman Khalid Kamau. "We're taking about how do we transform our parks from just recreation centers into holistic community health centers."

Mason told Huddleston on average they see several people every Monday who either get tested or want more information.

"I mean we're all adults. We're all doing the same thing. We just got to do it safely," Mason said.
Parks and Recreation director Tony Phillips said they want to expand the free testing to the 17 other parks in South Fulton to help raise awareness and lower the risk of contracting HIV.

Over the summer, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill creating a three-year pilot program to provide Prep, a pill to prevent HIV infection, to at-risk communities.

Earlier this year, the White House announced an effort to end the HIV epidemic, targeting Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

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