ATLANTA — New data published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Georgia, which has long had the highest rate of HIV infection in the country, continue to slowed transmission in 2021 even as there was a nationwide increase.
According to the CDC, overall HIV diagnoses increased in 2021 to 36,136. That still represents a 7% decrease from 2017, but was roughly 5,500 more than in 2020. The CDC cautions that 2020's number may have been artificially low due to missed reporting and identification during the pandemic.
Georgia, nevertheless, saw fewer new diagnoses in 2021 than in 2020. According to CDC statistics, Georgia had 2,439 new diagnoses in 2020 - a rate of 27.6 per 100,000 residents. In 2021 that number fell to 2,371, or 26.2 per 100,000 people.
That represents a roughly 5% decrease in the rate between 2020 and 2021 and - according to estimated rates from 2017, a 12.4% decrease in the transmission rate from 2017.
CDC data indicate substantial drops in the HIV transmission rates in metro Atlanta counties, with DeKalb County's rate dropping 13.2% from 2017-2021 and Fulton County's dropping 12.8%. Cobb County's rate dropped 9.7% from 2017-2020, with no data for 2021. Gwinnett County's rate increased from 2017-2019, but there was no data for 2020 or 2021.
“Our nation’s HIV prevention efforts continue to move in the right direction,” CDC Director Dr Rochelle P. Walensky said in a statement. “Longstanding factors, such as systemic inequities, social and economic marginalization and residential segregation, however, stand between highly effective HIV treatment and prevention and people who could benefit from them. Efforts must be accelerated and strengthened for progress to reach all groups faster and equitably.”
Georgia's overall transmission rate leaves continued work to be done - at 26.2 per 100,000 people, it remains the highest of any state and surpassed in the U.S. only by Washington, D.C. It is roughly three more diagnoses per 100,000 people higher than the next state, Louisiana (23.3).