Monday, June 22, 2009 Shows 18% of Georgia's Counties are Seriously Impacted by HIV

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Minority Quality Forum today launched a groundbreaking HIV/AIDS Atlas ( that highlights the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in communities across the United States. The Atlas makes information on HIV/AIDS prevalence rates available in a single location for the first time, painting a comprehensive picture of the varying intensity of the epidemic across the country.

Georgia has 20 counties with AIDS prevalence rates of 0.248 percent or greater, according to the Atlas, and 25 counties with HIV (non-AIDS) prevalence rates of 0.38 percent or greater. These counties are placed in the red or dark red zones depicted on the Atlas, indicating they are among the counties with the highest prevalence rates in the United States.

The HIV/AIDS Atlas is being released in advance of National HIV Testing Day (June 27), to highlight the growing need for increased HIV screening efforts in communities that are suffering disproportionately from the disease. Currently, 20 percent of HIV-positive Americans -- approximately 220,000 individuals -- are unaware of their infection. People with undiagnosed HIV infection are not receiving life-saving therapies, and it is estimated that they may unknowingly transmit up to 70 percent of new infections in the United States.

"We began this project with a desire to fill a fundamental gap in public access to HIV/AIDS information," said Gary Puckrein, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Minority Quality Forum. "Mapping the disease made visible health disparity zones around the country. It is an important step in increasing awareness and stemming the tide of the epidemic. Now that we can see more clearly where the problem is, we can improve data collection and analysis, prevention initiatives, early diagnosis and routine testing efforts in the hardest hit communities."

Highlights from the Atlas include the following:

-- The HIV/AIDS epidemic is concentrated in approximately 20 percent of
American counties (556 counties of the 3,027 counties for which data
were provided to the National Minority Quality Forum).
-- The HIV/AIDS epidemic is widespread among two-thirds of the
predominantly minority counties (comprising African Americans,
Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders) for which data were provided
to National Minority Quality Forum.

Using cutting-edge technology, the National Minority Quality Forum developed the HIV/AIDS Atlas from data provided by HIV/AIDS surveillance branches within state and territorial departments of health in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and New York City. The Atlas presents county-level prevalence rates based on the reported numbers of people living with HIV (non-AIDS) and AIDS in 2006. Users of the Atlas can map available data in multiple ways, including by age, gender and race/ethnicity. They can also view their congressional and state legislative districts overlaid on the county-level HIV/AIDS prevalence maps.

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