ATLANTA - Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, in partnership with AID Atlanta, is offering free HIV tests in recognition of World AIDS Day Friday.
Bottoms said all tests will be done individually and confidentially on Friday until 3 p.m. at Atlanta City Hall Old Council Chambers.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston has reported on how metro Atlanta has had an explosion of HIV and AIDS cases for the last three years. Doctors have compared the AIDS problem in Atlanta to that of developing nations. For many, the disease continues to be a death sentence, when it doesn't have to be.
On Friday, Huddleston spoke to a woman who contracted the disease from a man who put her at risk.
Freda Jones said she was in a monogamous relationship 16 years ago, but she didn't know the man was HIV-positive.
"He was living with HIV for nine years before we met, " Jones said. She is now HIV positive. But she's also an advocate and counselor for HIV patients.
She said the virus is no longer a death sentence if patients take their medication and follow safe guidelines.
Unfortunately, in Atlanta, there continues to be a high number of heterosexual woman and young people who contract HIV.
"Due to the lack of knowledge, you don't think it applies to you," Jones said.
Huddleston spoke to Dr. Zandreatta Tims-Cook, an infectious disease doctor with Wellstar, who said there is a daily medication available now that people who are sexually active should consider taking, even if they are in a monogamous relationship.
PREP, which is an acronym for 'pre-exposure prophylactic' is a medication that a person who is HIV-negative can take as a way of preventing HIV transmission. It's available just about everywhere, even if you don't have a prescription.
"Just being in the city of Atlanta and having a physical relationship with anyone really constitutes a high-risk situation," Tims-Cook said.
PREP has been available for six years, but now there is a specific push to have African-American women and young people take the daily medication as they would a birth control pill.
The same experts and doctors compared some Atlanta neighborhoods to developing African countries.
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