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Monday, November 15, 2010 - 9:31am

Health Officials Seek Input In AIDS Strategy

HIV and AIDS rates among gay men have been rising nationally for about a decade.

Call it a loss of collective memory or a lack of education, but young gay men simply have no personal knowledge of the devastation that visited gay men a generation ago.

State health officials now are starting what they say is a long overdue effort to try to lower Georgia's rising numbers of new infections.

Susan Alt of the state's Coastal Health District says, the attitude today is complacency and fatalism.

"We're starting to see an increase in the 19-to-29 age group, so we know that our prevention messaging must not be working," Alt says. "The clear attitude that we're hearing is, 'AIDS is no big deal anymore.'"

The state has scheduled a meeting in Savannah Monday to get public input on a new strategy, with the goal of increasing access to services and preventing new infections.

Outside Metro Atlanta, the six-county Savannah-based health district has the highest HIV/AIDS incident rate in Georgia.