(WTVM) - When it comes to AIDS and HIV, health officials say the disease is more prevalent in the Southeast.
Georgia is ranked fifth in the nation of the number of people with the virus.
According to the Georgia Department of health, 50,000 people in the state are living with HIV, and only one in five people who are HIV positive are even aware that they have the virus that can lead to AIDS.
"In the early stages after you catch the HIV virus there are no symptoms," explained J. Patrick O'Neal, M.D., who serves as Director of Health Protection with the Georgia Department of Public Health. "You may have a perfectly normal life after catching the virus...you may have a normal life for 10 or 15 years.. so there's nothing to nudge them to be tested... that's why routine testing is so important.."
Health officials say everyone should be tested at least once a year, and they say minorities are at greater risk of contracting the disease.
The Georgia Department of Health and the CDC are promoting a program called CAPUS, which stands for the Care and Prevention in the United States demonstration project.
It aims to reduce HIV and AIDS-related deaths among racial and ethnic minorities, and provides testing and resource information.
Visit their official website at this link for more information.