African Americans account for more than three-quarters of new HIV cases in Georgia. That is more than the nation overall, where nearly 50 percent of newly diagnosed patients are black.
HIV infection is growing most rapidly in the south, which is why the Black AIDS Institute and the state Department of Community Health are offering free HIV tests at five of Georgia’s historically black colleges and universities this week.
“It’s a matter of access and whether folks actually know they’re HIV positive,” said Charlie Baran, the institute’s director of programs. “You can’t access the benefits of treatment unless you know that you’re living with HIV.
“That’s why testing is so important,” he said.
Baran said the Greater Than AIDS tour is trying to reduce the stigma associated with getting tested for HIV.
“It’s important to reach these folks at this stage of their life so that they can carry this message of HIV prevention and personal health and wellness throughout their lives and as they assume leadership positions,” he said.
More than 200 students were tested at AlbanyState University and Savannah State University earlier this week. Baran said organizers stayed late on both campuses to accommodate demand.
The tour stopped at Fort Valley State University Wednesday, with planned stops at Paine College in Augusta Thursday and Morehouse College in Atlanta Friday.