• Extending HIV Prevention: People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) Strategize to Reduce Stigma and Promote HIV Testing

      Aholou, Tiffiany M. Cummings; Hou, Su-I; Grimes, Tanisha S.; University of Georgia; University of Georgia; University of Georgia (Georgia Public Health Association, 2009)
      Strategies to reduce acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)‐related stigma are paramount to promoting effective HIV prevention. As in the case of HIV antibody testing, despite the benefits of early detection, links to care, and risk behavior modification, nearly 250,000 people are unaware of their HIV status. AIDS‐related stigma has impeded such efforts due to discrimination, ignorance and other forms of stigma. These issues related to stigma and HIV testing are magnified when placed in the context of the rural Deep South region of the United States, where the incidence of HIV/AIDS are growing at alarming rates. The purpose of this paper was to examine strategies to reduce AIDS‐related stigma that in turn promotes HIV testing as proposed by people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) who reside in the Deep South. An exploratory descriptive qualitative research design was utilized. The sample consisted of 18 PLWHA. Data was collected using a focus group and individual, semi‐structured interviews. The analysis revealed the importance of ongoing education as a mediator between reducing stigma and promoting HIV testing. Other salient findings were related to reframing HIV/AIDS‐related health messages to reflect a sense of empowerment; the need to normalize testing; the use of less stigmatizing testing sites; and the continuance of anonymous HIV testing. This article is significant because it illuminates the challenges of HIV prevention in the Deep South, while also generating culturally‐sensitive strategies to counter these barriers.
    • From the Editor: State Journals of Public Health

      Thomas, McKinley; Mercer University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2009)
      From the Editor
    • HIV Rates in the State of Georgia: A Growing Threat among Predominantly African American Populations

      Raychowdhury, Swati; Tedders, Stuart H.; Georgia Southern University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2009)
      Background: US rates of HIV/AIDS continue to rise with over 55% of new cases identified in southern states in 2003. The objective of this study was to determine the magnitude of HIV/AIDS cases in rural southeast Georgia in comparison to urban areas of the state. Methods: County level data was acquired using OASIS. Rates of HIV infections by gender and race (black vs. white) were aggregated over a five year period (2000–2005) and indirectly adjusted using Georgia as the standard. Rates for rural counties, (populations less than 35,000), were statistically compared to urban rates (α = 0.05). Results: HIV infections in urban counties were significantly higher as compared to rural counties. Statistically high infection rates in urban areas were also evident when controlling race and gender. Black males and black females in urban counties were the groups most heavily impacted. Conclusions: HIV/AIDS is an increasingly complex problem throughout the state of Georgia. Although urban areas continue to be significantly impacted, HIV infections among rural populations, especially black residents, represent a serious and growing threat.
    • Social and Economic Determinants of Infant Ill Health in 159 Georgia Counties: A Comparison Study

      Peden, Angela; Scott, Alison; Peden, John G.; Georgia Southern University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2009)
      Prematurity and low birth weight (LBW) are important causes of infant morbidity in Georgia and the United States. Georgia county-level data were used to explore the relationships between prematurity and LBW and two social and economic determinants of health: race and poverty status. Spearman rank correlations and Friedman and Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used. Prematurity and LBW were positively associated with poverty status and the presence of large African American populations. While causation cannot be inferred from correlative data, this analysis highlights the need to consider the role of social and economic factors in infant morbidity. It also highlights the need to target interventions and services to geographic areas most in need.