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More than Half of All New HIV Cases in the South are Black Women. Here's Why.


An illustrated image showing four Black Women in Atlanta holding HIV ribbons in front of the city skyline
Black women are disproportionately affected by HIV

In 2022, over 64,000 people moved to Atlanta. And while many of those new residents know all about Atlanta's great weather, buzzing film industry, and legendary restaurants, far fewer are aware that HIV continues to be a major public health concern in the city, especially for Black women and girls.


SisterLove is committed to reducing these rates by increasing awareness about safe sexual practices, making it easier to test yourself for HIV, and combating stigma and discrimination for those who live with HIV already.


Black women remain one group most affected by HIV in Georgia.

This post explores the intersectionality of embedded racism, sexism, and discrimination that converge to leave Black women and girls in Atlanta exceptionally vulnerable to the HIV epidemic, and provides actionable steps you can take today to help reduce rates of infection in your community.


According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Black women accounted for more than half of all new HIV infections reported among U.S. females aged 13 years or older between 2008-2017, with an estimated 18% of those cases occurring in Georgia alone.


A chart showing statistics about the HIV epidemic showing that 55% of new cases of HIV are women who live the South


This disparity directly reflects systemic prejudice and systematic neglect of Black women and girls in Atlanta and across the country. It’s essential for any public health response to acknowledge and center the lived experiences of Black women if it is to be effective. Far too often though, Black women are a mere afterthought in public health outreach, HIV-cure research, and public policy.


Community-based organizations need to be the centerpiece of outreach efforts, health education, and messaging campaigns to raise awareness. And while organizations have a critical role, so do you. This is why we created our Community-based Research Program to make sure that Black women, girls, femmes, and other marginalized groups get the attention they deserve in collective efforts to end the HIV epidemic.


You can participate in helping us make sure that you and your community have representation in public health research by joining a paid study.



What is the Rate Of HIV In Black Women And Girls In Atlanta?


A graphic of the Southern United States showing that 52% of all HIV diagnoses in the US are in the South
52% of all HIV diagnoses in the US are in the South

Unfortunately, while there have been major improvements being made nationally on reducing overall rates of infection across communities, we are still seeing disproportionately high numbers among Black women here in Atlanta - particularly amongst young women and girls ages 13-34, who account for nearly 50% of new diagnoses each year.


It’s no surprise then why researchers have found that Black women remain one group most affected by HIV in Georgia. This means that even though other racial groups may experience lower levels than them – Black women are still bearing much heavier burdens.



What Can I Do To Help Reduce Rates Of Infection Among My Community?

Despite the odds against us there are many reasons to maintain hope. There are actions everyone can take right now to help make a difference:


Participate in Public Health Research

There are several organizations that center Black women, girls, and femmes in HIV research.

A Black woman wearing a black jacket looking in to the camera for SisterLove, Inc Atlanta HIV charity

SisterLove has an innovative program to lead and support public health research that focuses on marginalized groups who are often left out of consideration. We also make sure that each participant is paid for their time.


This is important because those who are under-privileged often cannot afford to spend time participating in research studies due to the pressure of having to work or fulfill other obligations. We know how difficult it might be to justify taking off of work to participate in an academic study when you have bills to pay.


That’s why we’ve made it a priority to offer the highest paid study compensation rates in Atlanta for public health research that we can afford.



Educate Yourself & Loved Ones About Safe Sex Practices

Don't underestimate your power as a person to contribute to collective change.


You can empower yourself and others around through educating yourself and sharing knowledge. Make sure everyone you know knows about evidenced-based safe sex practices. Use and share our HIV 101 knowledgebase. Doing homework now could save lives later.



Get Tested Regularly & Take Necessary Medication If Positive

The most important tool to decrease rates of HIV transmission is to get tested regularly.


If you live in Atlanta, you can schedule a free HIV test in person, or test from the privacy of your own home with one of our self-test kits. Learn more about free HIV testing in Atlanta here.


If you already live with HIV, it’s important to make sure that you’re taking the proper medication. Medicines like Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) can help you to live a long and healthy life. ARTs, and other HIV medicines, can help to reduce symptoms and viral load to undetectable levels. It’s also important to get regular checkups with your doctor in order manage condition effectively.



What Other Resources Are Available?

There are a number of resources available in Atlanta to help combat the spread of HIV, particularly among Black women and girls. In addition to SisterLove's research program and free HIV testing, there are a number of other organizations that offer support, education, and advocacy for those affected by HIV. Some of these organizations include:

  • Positive Impact Health Centers: Provides medical care, testing, and counseling services for those living with HIV in the Atlanta area.

  • AID Atlanta: Offers a range of services for those affected by HIV, including testing, counseling, and education programs.

  • The Red Door Foundation: Advocates for and provides support to Black communities affected by HIV in the Southern United States.

You can find these, and more resources in our Atlanta Community Resource Guide. By working together and utilizing the resources available in our community, we can make a difference in the fight against HIV.



The Community is the Cure

The HIV epidemic among Black women and girls in Atlanta is a serious public health concern that demands all of our attention. Systemic racism, sexism, and discrimination continue to make this population extremely vulnerable to infection, and it's up to all of us to take action. By participating in public health research, educating ourselves and our loved ones about safe sex practices, and getting tested regularly, we can make a difference. Together, we can work towards reducing rates of infection in our community and ending the HIV epidemic once and for all. Become a supporter today!


 
SisterLove, Inc Atlanta HIV charity group of diverse women holding hands

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