According to researchers and doctors, HIV rates in Atlanta have now been classified as an epidemic.
“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.
“We should not be having an epidemic of that proportion in a country like ours,” she said. “This is not Africa, we have resources.”
Dr. Del Rico noted that HIV primarily affects Black Americans with inadequate 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,” she said.
J.R. Watson found out he was positive 20 years ago and he told Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston that he “sat there and literally cried like a baby for 30 to 45 minutes.”
According to the report, he contracted HIV from a woman he was dating.
“All it took was that one time with that wrong person to change your life forever,” Watson said, hoping that his story inspires young people to make better choices and always use protection.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, just because you live in a nice neighborhood, just because you’re alive outside of Atlanta.”
AIDS research officials said the number of people affected is staggering. Making matters worse, a lack of leadership and mismanagement in Fulton County, according to a report by WSB-TV.
A 2015 Fulton County internal audit of their HIV Prevention Program cited poor management after the county squandered millions of CDC grant dollars meant for HIV programs.
Ultimately the county had to return millions to the CDC.
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.