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Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - 12:21pm

Map Shows HIV Poverty Link

A new interactive map from Emory University shows that HIV infections in Georgia are most common in areas of high poverty.

Emory University's AIDSVu online map shows that the majority of Georgia's HIV cases are in parts of the state where most people live below the federal poverty line.

One of the hardest-hit areas is in east Georgia, where in Burke, Washington, and Jefferson counties 249 of every 100,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV. 

Dr. Patrick Sullivan helped create the interactive map.

He says the tool should be used by public health officials to target areas that need better education and access to care.

"It's going to be important that we focus the limited resources we have for testing, for treatment, for care in the places that are most impacted." 

State health officials say they are now trying to get rural areas better access to HIV testing and treatment.

Dr. Anil Mangla is with the Georgia Department of Public Health. He says it's also important to continue telling young people about the dangers of unsafe sex even after they've graduated high school.

"A year or two go by and they kind of forget and people need to know that this is a disease [that] once you get it you are going to have to be on treatment for your whole life. So it's not something that people should take lightly and I think that message needs to be reiterated all the time."

The department recently came under fire for allegedly mismanaging federal funds intended for HIV testing.

An investigation by the state is ongoing.