HIV Prevention for Georgians Grappling with Addiction
HIV and Addiction
The link between addiction and HIV/AIDS is well documented. While injection drug use is most often associated with HIV transmission, the vast majority of new HIV infections in Georgia (and nationwide) are the result of unprotected sex. While alcohol and other drug use is known to increase the likelihood of unprotected sex, for people who are addicted - either to drugs or alcohol - high-risk sexual behaviors may include survival sex, sex with multiple partners, or trading sex for drugs.
HIV/AIDS in Georgia
The South is at the epicenter of a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, with more people living with HIV and dying of AIDS than in any region in the country and Georgia is ranked 6th highest among the 50 states in cumulative reported AIDS cases. In Georgia as elsewhere, the people who bear the overwhelming burden of this disease are racial and ethnic minorities.
- The number of Black or African American men living with an HIV infection in Georgia is five times that of white men.
- The number of Black or African American women in Georgia with an HIV diagnosis is nearly 13 times that of white women.
- The rate of Hispanic females living with an HIV diagnosis compared to white females in Georgia is more than 3 to 1.
- Men who have sex with men still account for the highest number of cases in the state
Unfortunately, of those living with HIV in the United States, more than one in five is not aware of it. Urging all Americans to be tested in order to learn their HIV status, Dr. Kevin Fenton of CDC says, “No single step can do more to stop the spread of HIV and improve the health and prolong the lives of those who are infected.”
Reason for Hope
75 percent of HIV-positive people will change risky behaviors when they learn their status. And the key to benefitting from life-saving treatments is early diagnosis. Treatment also sharply reduces the possibility of transmission.
HIV Prevention and Addiction Recovery
A hallmark of both addiction and HIV is that fear of stigma can be a powerful deterrent to those seeking services. Through the HIV Early Intervention Services (EIS) program, Georgia offers HIV prevention services on-site in addiction treatment centers.
Designed to make HIV prevention services accessible to drug users, the HIV EIS program consists of a network of 165 nurses and counselors who are working to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in Georgia. Based in 28 DBHDD / SAMHSA-funded addiction treatment centers and 4 private opioid treatment clinics throughout the state, HIV EIS workers offer free HIV prevention education, counseling, and testing to people entering treatment. HIV-positive clients – whether previously or newly diagnosed – are referred to medical care and social services.
HIV Early Intervention Services Website
For HIV prevention resources and more information about the HIV Early Intervention Services program, visit www.hiveis.com.
HIV Risk Reduction newsletters