“Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, co-director of Emory University’s Center for AIDS Research.
Del Rio said the disease shifted from one that mainly affected gay men and drug users in the late ’80s to a disease that now affects just about every population, but in particular African-Americans with limited access to health care.
“Don’t have food on your table, have kids to take care of and somebody says you have HIV, that’s just another, that’s just another problem that you have,” del Rio said.
If you live in the southeast, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than any other part of the country and in Georgia the risk of diagnosis leaps to one in 51.
“We should not be having an epidemic of that proportion in a country like ours,” del Rio said. “This is not Africa, we have resources.”
Fulton County now has a new public health director and HIV programs like mobile testing units are more visible around the city. The van travels to ZIP codes with the highest number of HIV cases.
Channel 2 was there when the testing unit was by Grady Hospital. They tested more than 30 people, and two came back HIV positive.
But fortunately for Watson, HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence — if you receive treatment.
With access to antivirals he is looking forward to living a long life. His diagnosis didn’t get in the way of him finding love and he is now married.
“I fall in love with her every day and that’s no lie,” Watson said. “That’s no exaggeration.”
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