Sunday, December 20, 2009

A young Georgia woman who is not going to have a very Merry Christmas.

I know a young Georgia woman who is not going to have a very Merry Christmas. I just told her that she is HIV positive.

As usual with our current crush of uninsured women with increasingly complicated problems, I was running behind. So, she had an attitude when I walked into the exam room. Young women typically have important stuff to do and places to be and she didn’t like it that I had kept her waiting. She informed me that she had a ‘discharge’ is the reason she came in for exam. She impatiently checked her text messages twice while I was trying to get a history from her. She assured me that she had no risk factors for other STD’s or HIV since she was in a monogamous relationship now for three years. She agreed to an HIV test because it was ‘part of the package.’ Her rapid HIV test was positive, twice. Though she must wait on confirmatory testing, I have no doubt that it will confirm that we have another young woman joining the other 18,011 (in 2007) living with HIV/AIDS in Georgia.

That’s right. In 2007, 18,011 Georgians were living with HIV/AIDS and 16,693 were already dead. But, what makes headlines in Rome? The availability of H1N1 flu vaccines at the local health department has been front-page ‘above the fold’ in large letters at least three times in the last month. >>>Missing from our headlines are these facts:

• Georgia is now number three in the nation for black Americans estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.
• Nearly half of all new HIV cases now occur in the South.
• The incidence rate of new HIV infections among black women is nearly 15 times the rate among white women.
• The majority of newly reported AIDS cases among Blacks in 2007 occurred in the South (where Blacks are only 19% of the population).
• HIV-related deaths and HIV death rates are highest among Blacks.

How long will our health departments expend all of its time and energy administering flu shots, which are available in every corner pharmacy, and not doing STD screening, which is available nowhere to a majority of our young people? When will our news organizations start reporting on the problems of Rome women who are unable to obtain affordable STD testing or the devastating effects of Georgia’s lack of comprehensive sex education?


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Marilyn said...

Thank you Sharon, let us know what you need and feel free to re-publish anything on this blog or the clinic's website