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Atlanta Has One of the Highest HIV Infection Rates in the World. Here's Why

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Atlanta Has One of the Highest HIV Infection Rates in the World. Here's Why

Did you know that Atlanta has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world? In fact, 1 in 51 people in Atlanta, Georgia, may be infected with HIV/AIDs at any given time.

That's why the Center for Disease Control decided to declare it an epidemic in the most populous city in Georgia.

The surprising bit is that HIV rates in neighboring cities and states come nowhere close to the numbers Atlanta has. This begs the question, why does Atlanta, Georgia has one of the highest infection rates in the world? A good question and we have all the answers you'll need right here.

In today's post, we'll be examining the main factors that make HIV so prevalent in Atlanta. We'll also look into the symptoms of HIV in both men and women, as well as where you can go for free HIV testing in Atlanta.

Factors Contributing to Atlanta's High HIV Infection Rate

Plenty of factors contribute to Atlanta's staggeringly high HIV infection rate. Here are the main ones.

Inadequate HIV/AIDs Education

A large percentage of people in Atlanta are generally unaware of how the disease is transmitted and how to prevent it. This stems from a lack of HIV/AIDS education, both in schools and at home.

This is a huge problem because it means that people are more likely to engage in risky behavior without using protection, thereby increasing their chances of contracting HIV.


Atlanta has a pretty high poverty rate of 24%, which means about 1 in 4 people in the city live below the poverty line. Poverty is one of the main drivers of the HIV epidemic because people who are struggling to make ends meet are often forced into high-risk behaviors.

For instance, they may engage in survival sex (selling sex for money or food) or share needles when injecting drugs, both of which increase the likelihood of HIV transmission.

Prevalent Drug and Substance Abuse

The drug situation in Atlanta is wanting, to say the least, with opioids being the most popular drug of choice. Drug users inject these opioids into their system using syringes with needles. HIV often spreads through needle sharing among drug users.

Additionally, drug and substance abuse often lead to high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, which also increases the chances of HIV transmission.


There is still a lot of stigma surrounding HIV/AIDs, which often prevents people from getting tested or seeking treatment. This is because people are afraid of being discriminated against or ostracized if their HIV status is revealed.

This stigma also leads to a lack of open discussion about HIV/AIDs, further compounding the problem.

Do I Have HIV? Here's How You Can Tell

Contrary to popular opinion, HIV doesn't discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. HIV is also pretty crafty; it can take months to years for symptoms to manifest, which is why many people are often unaware that they have the disease.

That being said, here are some of the most common symptoms of HIV in both men and women.

General HIV Symptoms

Men and women exhibit different HIV symptoms, but some symptoms cut across the board. Some of these symptoms include:

● Fever

● Mouth sores

● Rash

● Headaches

● Diarrhea

● Swollen lymph glands

● Joint pain and muscle aches

HIV Symptoms in Men

Men with HIV usually suffer from the below symptoms. Note that these symptoms are specific to men:

● Fatigue

● Depression

● Infertility

● Erectile Dysfunction

● Reduced hair growth on the face and body

● Growth of breast tissue

HIV Symptoms in Women

Women with HIV typically exhibit the following symptoms. Again, these symptoms are specific to women.

● Abnormal vaginal discharge

● A shift in your period's timetable

● Upper belly pain

● Pain during intercourse

If you notice most of the above symptoms, then you may be infected with HIV. However, don't ring the alarm bells yet. The only sure way to know is through HIV testing.

The HIV Testing Process

HIV testing is pretty simple and straightforward. A health care provider will take a sample of your blood or saliva and test it for HIV antibodies. If the test comes back positive, then you have HIV. If it's negative, then you don't have HIV.

However, it's important to note that there is a small window period between HIV infection and the production of HIV antibodies. This means that you could test negative for HIV even though you've been infected. For this reason, it's important to get tested regularly, especially if you engage in high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex or needle sharing.

Where Can I Get Tested?

There are a number of HIV testing centers in Atlanta, so you're never too far from one. Here are some of the most popular HIV testing centers in Atlanta:

For women, we highly suggest visiting SisterLove in Southwest Atlanta. This organization by Dazon Dixon Diallo is one of the leading HIV/AIDS service organizations for women of color in Atlanta. SisterLove is committed to providing HIV prevention, education, and support services to all women in Atlanta.

Does HIV Self-Testing Work?

HIV self-testing is a process where you test yourself for HIV in the privacy of your own home. The most popular HIV self-test on the market is OraQuick, which uses a swab from the inside of your mouth to test for HIV antibodies.

If you want to keep your HIV status to yourself, then an HIV self-test in Atlanta also works. However, we urge you to get tested at an HIV testing center as well for more accurate results.

Is There a Cure for HIV?

Currently, there's no cure for HIV. However, with proper treatment and medication, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. In fact, many people with HIV now have a life expectancy that's on par with the general population.

Together We Can Beat HIV!

HIV is a serious problem in Atlanta, but it's one that we can beat if we work together. Get tested regularly, use protection, and educate yourself and others about HIV prevention. Let's join hands and put an end to HIV in Atlanta!


SisterLove provides Atlanta nonprofit dedicated to women's health, for HIV testing and more information on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment in Atlanta. Request a self-test or schedule and in-person appointment today!

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