Georgia HIV infections drop significantly

The Georgia Department of Public Health says HIV infections in Georgia dropped 6 percent each year from 2008 to 2014.

In a news release, the DPH says a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia is among eight states whose infection rate dropped significantly during the six-year period.

The decline is attributed to effective prevention and treatment strategies.

“This is very encouraging news for Georgia as we work to eliminate HIV/AIDS in the state. It also reinforces what we’ve said all along that linking patients with treatment is essential to reducing HIV transmission in Georgia,” said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., director of Health Protection for DPH.

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.

DPH plays a critical role in these efforts. The department’s Office of HIV/AIDS works to reduce the spread of HIV by promptly identifying HIV-positive clients and linking them to medical care and support services. Other programs focused on prevention are the Comprehensive HIV Prevention Program, the Ryan White Part B Program, and the Georgia Care and Prevention in the United States Initiative (CAPUS).

According to DPH's 2014 analysis, the number of persons living with HIV has steadily increased as a result of effective treatment. Since the development of highly-active antiretroviral therapy during the mid-1990s, deaths due to AIDS have declined substantially.

The CDC reports the number of annual HIV infections in the United States fell 18 percent between 2008 and 2014 — from an estimated 45,700 to 37,600. All states, and Washington, D.C., where CDC reports annual HIV infections declined significantly are: Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Texas.

Larry Gierer: 706-571-8581, @lagierer