The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is trying to reduce stigma and complacency around HIV and AIDS with a new advertising and social media blitz featuring Americans living with the disease.
Officials point to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found 7 percent of Americans in 2011 thought HIV is the nation’s most urgent health problem, down from 21 percent in 2004.
“AIDS in America is far from over. It’s often been too invisible,” said Nickolas DeLuca, chief of prevention communication in the CDC’s HIV/AIDS division. “Each year there are approximately 50,000 newly infected individuals and an estimated 1.1 million people who are currently living with HIV in the U.S.”
About 40,000 of those people live in Georgia, according to state data. Two-thirds are in metro Atlanta, but there are high rates in the Augusta and Coastal health districts, too. Georgia also accounted for more than 2,000 new infections in 2010.
But CDC estimates 1 in 5 Americans with HIV don’t know they have it.
“There have been lots of advances in treatment, and that’s really exciting,” DeLuca said. “But at the same time, effective treatments have led to the false belief that HIV infection is not a major threat still in the U.S.”
DeLuca said the CDC is using stories of everyday people living with the disease to reduce stigma.
The campaign is launching initially in six cities, including Atlanta.