(WTVM) - Governor Nathan Deal has proclaimed December 1, 2012 World AIDS Day in Georgia.
The state will join countries around the world uniting people in the fight against HIV/AIDS, offering support for people living with HIV and remembering those who have died of AIDS.
In observance of World AIDS Day, the Georgia Department of Public Health is hosting its first HIV/AIDS Twitter chat on Saturday, December 1, 2012 from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. Discussion topics include startling new HIV/AIDS numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the AIDS epidemic in Georgia, and what is being done statewide to fight the spread of HIV. There will be information about HIV testing and AIDS treatment and prevention. To join the chat, follow #GeorgiaWAD2012.
Numbers released this week by the CDC reveal young people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent more than a quarter of new HIV infections each year. Sixty percent of those young people don't know they are infected.
"It is a sobering reality that so many young people are infected with HIV and even more startling, the number of these young people who aren't even aware of it," said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. "This tragedy can be prevented by getting people tested and linked to treatment."
As part of Georgia's "treatment as prevention" effort to reduce the spread of HIV infection, the CDC recently awarded the Georgia Department of Public Health $2.5 million to help get HIV-positive Georgians into treatment. Linking these patients with treatment is essential to reducing HIV transmission in Georgia. Research indicates an HIV-positive person is 96 percent less-likely to pass the virus to others if they're adhering to an appropriate treatment regimen.
Free HIV testing is available throughout Georgia. To find a location near you and to learn more about World AIDS Day events call the Georgia AIDS and STD hotline at 800-551-2728.
About the Georgia Department of Public Health
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. In 2011, the General Assembly restored DPH to its own state agency after more than 30 years of consolidation with other departments. At the state level, DPH functions through numerous divisions, sections, programs and offices. Locally, DPH funds and collaborates with Georgia's 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts. Through the changes, the mission has remained constant – to protect the lives of all Georgians. Today, DPH's main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For more information about DPH, visit www.health.state.ga.us.