Better Way Foundation reacts to updated HIV, AIDS data for Columbus

Better Way Foundation reacts to updated HIV, AIDS data for Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Centers for Disease Control recently released the latest numbers for HIV infections and Stage 3 AIDS diagnosis for Columbus and the state of Georgia, and it was a mixture of good and bad news.

For Jeremy Hobbs of the Better Way Foundation, the decline of the HIV infection rate in 2013 is a small victory, but the troubling news is the Stage 3 AIDS diagnosis.  

"People have become complacent. They are not getting out and getting tested. At our national HIV testing that we did this year, we normally test 150 people. This year, we only did 50. People are just not taking the necessary precaution," Hobbs said.

The numbers for Columbus in 2012 show that HIV infections went from 101 to 78. For the Stage 3 AIDS diagnosis in 2012 , 29 people were diagnosed but in 2013, the number rose to 43 in the Fountain City.

For 2013 in LaGrange, 102 people for HIV infections and 61 for Stage 3 AIDS.

"The rural areas of the south has more people living dying and becoming infected than any other region of the country. We have to get more funding to reach out to the areas," Hobbs said.

Hobbs says outreach events like National HIV Testing Day can help people know their status. But he says individuals should be mindful of other contactable sexually-transmitted diseases. 

"Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis - we have the highest rates in the state of Georgia and the 40th in the country," Hobbs said.

Other alarming numbers include more than 1,784 African American in Georgia diagnosed with HIV in 2013 and close to 900 with Stage 3 AIDS. The infections also have high numbers in other demographics.

"75 percent of all prenatal HIV infections were stage 3 as well because the mother was not getting care," Hobbs said.

Hobbs says educating the public, gathering the resources and funding from the community can help in the decline of these numbers in the future.

If you need information on where you can get tested, call the Better Way Foundation at (706)-580-6239.

RELATED: HIV infections dropping in Columbus

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