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State adding to HIV/AIDS arsenal

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POSTED: May 31, 2007 5:02 a.m.
ATLANTA — In 2004, Georgia was ranked eighth in the nation for AIDS’ cases with a total of 28,248 affected individuals, many of them aged 25-44.
Nearly 27,000 Georgians were living with HIV in 2005 and more than 17,000 were living with AIDS with many more affected by their infections.
“HIV/AIDS is not just a state public health issue, it is an issue that affects the entire community,” Stuart Brown, MD, director of the Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, said.
The division recently became the first agency in the nation to receive approval from the Office of Pharmacy Affairs, a component of the Health Resources and Services Administration, to use a demonstration project for dispensing AIDS Drug Assistance Program medication.
Under this project, HIV/AIDS patients can pick up their medication from pharmacies in their area or participating pharmacies across the state. Presently all ADAP participants are served by the pharmacy at Grady Memorial Hospital. The division currently provides life-prolonging medication to more than 5,500 Georgians who are unable to afford the costly drugs.
The prevention of HIV is a priority of the division. During the recent General Assembly, legislation was adopted to reduce passage of HIV from mother to child during pregnancy and delivery, after birth and during breast feeding. Georgia has the ninth highest number of reported pediatric AIDS cases in the country with 15-20 newborns infected with HIV every year.
Division experts believe they have the best chance of preventing the spread of HIV from mothers to unborn children by detecting the illness early in pregnant women. House Bill 429, the Georgia HIV Pregnancy Act of 2007, requires practitioners to initiate conversation about HIV testing with pregnant women as a part of their routine care.
For more information about HIV/AIDS in Georgia, call (800) 257-9769 or visit online at http://health.state.ga.us/epi/hivaids
 

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