This is a not something new. We have know for years that HIV/AIDS was becoming a real threat for rural, female, African-American and poor people.
This is not all the fault of the state (but plenty of blame does reside there). The CDC has never really EVER had a HIV prevention plan in place. When the CDC gets criticized or the HIV numbers don’t go down (or get worse) they throw ideas and plans at HIV prevention and then next year abandon this for the newest idea or plan that comes up.
Add to this the interference (CDC) at the highest levels of government (The White House) and our national fear of talking about sex or sex being referenced to some religious thought that says any sex is bad unless you are making more Christian babies (search this blog for CDC articles) and you have the national response for the past 25 years.
As far as Georgia is concerned we have only done what was absolutely required to address HIV after activists and the federal government forced the issue. There has not been any high level leadership on the issue from either party or political group.
The Division of Public Health is part of DHR and Governor Perdue hired B.J. Walker in 2004 to head up DHR mainly to deal with the Division of Families and Children Services (which is another thing we cannot ever seem to fix) and Walker did/does not know anything about Public Health or HIV. Walker has been too busy firing and replacing DFCS Division directors and ignoring the Mental Health Division issues (patients dying in the hospitals/feds coming to take it over etc) to do more than pay lip service to HIV.
At the same time in 2004 Purdue put Bruce Cook in as the Chairman of the DHR board whose job it is to oversee Walker, set budget and policy for all of DHR including the Division of Public Health. Cook owns “Choosing the Best”, an abstinence-only company and was finally removed because he was roundly criticized for doing business with Georgia’s Department of Education while serving as board chairman of DHR.
Cook constantly ran foul of the HIV community as he made false claims about condoms failure rates and other data concerning HIV. The AJC and Creative Loafing in Atlanta did many articles about him during 2004-2006 concerning his company and his “philosophy” and finally he got too hot for Perdue and was dumped and appointed to some obscure Mental Health Task Force committee (now, the Mental Health Hospitals are under federal investigation) and finally he disappeared from the radar for awhile.
Want to know how NOT to effectively deal with a disease that is spread through sex, drug needles and pregnant women?
Study HIV in this county and state.
Facts are things to be ignored- they just get in the way of our beliefs.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
HIV/AIDS has assumed a new face in Georgia.
It is younger and more rural, more likely to be black or female.
And it is harder to reach with prevention messages, testing and services.
Old messages geared to urban, white, gay men simply don’t resonate with many African-American and rural people, advocates say.
That worries the advocates.
The inability to reach those groups “is really a threat to everyone’s well-being,” said Clarence Reynolds, spokesman for AID Atlanta, the largest AIDS service organization in the Southeast. He said people who do not receive services and safe-sex counseling are more likely to spread the virus.
The number of Georgians living with HIV/AIDS jumped almost 27 percent from 2004 to 2007, to 32,740, reports the state Division of Public Health. The number of deaths has leveled off, as stronger drugs have allowed infected people to live longer.
Stigma for gays in rural and black communities, has often kept the issue out of churches and schools, advocates say. Continue reading
Filed under: Africian American, CDC, Corrections and HIV, Gay, Georgia, Georgia Politics, Health Care Policy, Hispanic, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS Stigma, Mental Health, Poverty, Rural, Rural HIV/AIDS, STD, Substance Abuse, The South and HIV, The Southern States, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »