• The care continuum for people living with HIV in Georgia: How can we raise the bar?

      Kelly, Jane; Rane, Deppali; Wortley, Pascale; Drenzek, Cherie; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: Viral suppression (VS) improves quality of life and longevity for people living with HIV (PLWH) and reduces viral transmission, but is achieved by only a minority of PLWH in Georgia Methods: By use of the Georgia HIV/AIDS surveillance database, the HIV Care Continuum was stratified by age. Results: Retention in care and VS generally increased with increasing age, with the exception of adolescents (aged 13-18 years), who had the highest retention and VS. Differences by sex, race and transmission category persisted across age groups. Among persons retained in care, the proportion achieving VS also generally increased with age. Linkage to care within 3 months of HIV diagnosis was lower among young adults (aged 19-24 years) (54%); young Black, non-Hispanic (NH) males (49%); and young Black NH men who have sex with men (MSM) (49%) as compared to those among adolescents (66%, 58%, and 57%). Conclusions: Retention in care and VS decreases with the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, possibly reflecting loss of support systems and competing priorities. At the other end of the age spectrum, health care and social support systems will be confronted with increasing numbers of older PLWH in Georgia. Challenges in HIV treatment and prevention include (a) the need for integrated medical care for aging PLWH with co-morbid conditions, and (b) the changing social environment of young PLWH.
    • Ebola: Working through fear

      Fitzgerald, Brenda; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
    • Increased perception of mosquito problems during a stormwater restoration project

      Kelly, Rosmarie; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      In 2008, a plan for improvement of the McDaniel Branch Watershed was prepared for the city of Atlanta, Department of Watershed Management. This included the construction of ponds in a kudzu-covered area at Bowen Circle. There is a perception that wetlands create mosquito problems. In point of fact, most of the vector and nuisance species in Atlanta are either container breeders or floodwater species, and do not breed in ponds. Because there is an average of 5 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) reported in Fulton County per year, most of these near Combined Sewer Overflow streams, county residents are aware of the connection between mosquitoes and WNV. As the McDaniel Branch Watershed Improvement Plan progressed, neighborhood residents became convinced that the changes being implemented in the area were increasing mosquito problems and increasing their risk of WNV infections. In Oct 2013, the Environmental Health Section of the Georgia Department of Public Health was contacted by the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management concerning control of mosquitoes in the ponds being created at the Bowen Circle site. It was determined that mosquito surveillance should be implemented in the area to determine if the changes to the watershed area were creating a mosquito problem. At the end of the 2014 mosquito surveillance season, it was established that there was little association between the watershed improvement project, the reported mosquito exposure, and measures of mosquito production within this neighborhood.
    • The role of perception in developing healthy lifestyles and community engagement

      Coleman, Anne-Marie; Hicks-Coolick, Anne; Brown, Agnes F.; Georgia Department of Public Health; Cobb and Doglas Public Health Department; Kennesaw State University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: The Cobb and Douglas Public Health Department and the Cobb2020 partnership, sponsored by the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnering program, facilitated six focus groups in Cobb County to ascertain residents’ perceptions of healthy behaviors. The purpose of the research was to assist in the development of programs to increase healthy behaviors. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to choose fifty-eight participants, who were divided into six groups in different geographic locations. The focus group questions concerned healthy living, health communications, and community health. Qualitative data analysis techniques were used to generate themes and categories across and within groups. Results: Six themes emerged: 1) need for education; 2) healthy food choices; 3) access to healthcare; 4) trust in health care providers; 5) affordable healthcare; and 6) need for local resources. The results show how community members’ perceptions regarding: a) policies that affect health, b) environments that promote healthier choices, and c) systems that allow individuals to be health consumers influence healthy living and community engagement. Other findings note different perceptions between those with and without health insurance. In addition, socio-economic status and ethnicity were seen as factors related to the perceptions of participants. Conclusions: The findings of this study informed a comprehensive, county-wide Community Health Improvement Plan. As a result of these studies, Cobb & Douglas Public Health established, as two chronic disease prevention interventions, the Cobb2020 Farm Fresh Market and, in the City of Kennesaw, the 100% Tobacco Free Parks and Cemeteries policy. Keywords: focus group, healthy living, individual perceptions, health belief model
    • The state of accreditation readiness in Georgia: A case study

      Peden, Angela; Shah, H Gulzar; Toal, Russell; Alexander, Dayna S.; Wright, Alesha; Anderson, Ashton; Marshall, A Nandi; Uhlich, Scott; Jones, Jeffery; Georgia Department of Public Health; et al. (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: Georgia’s public health districts first began exploring the idea of national public health accreditation in 2008 when Cobb & Douglas Public Health included accreditation in their strategic plan. In May 2015, Cobb & Douglas Public Health was the first Georgia public health district to achieve national accreditation status. This article discusses the current state of accreditation readiness in Georgia and explores strengths and barriers to accreditation. Methods: This study utilized a case study approach in order to examine PHAB accreditation efforts in Georgia within a real-life context. Data came from three sources: nine Accreditation Readiness Assessments, a PHAB Pre-Application Technical Assistance Survey, and state-wide Accreditation Readiness Survey. Results: The Accreditation Readiness Assessments resulted in several lessons learned about common strengths and barriers to accreditation. Strengths included a dedicated staff and supportive Boards of Health. Barriers included accreditation fees and a lack of personnel time. The PHAB Pre-application TA Survey revealed that the majority of those surveyed would recommend TA to other agencies pursuing PHAB accreditation (91%). The Accreditation Readiness Survey revealed that 14 of 18 GA public health districts are either PHAB accredited (1 district), actively pursuing PHAB accreditation (2 districts), or planning to apply (11 districts). This includes 116 of the 159 Georgia counties (73%). Conclusions: The results of this case study show that 72% of Georgia’s public health districts are engaged in accreditation-related activities. This includes activities such as accreditation readiness assessment, community health assessment, QI council and plan development, strategic planning, and policy review.
    • Surviving HIV and dying for a smoke: Implications for tobacco use among people living with HIV

      Culbreth, Rachel; Kelly, Jane; Maggio, David; Wortley, Pascale; Drenzek, Cherie; Georgia Department of Public Health HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Section; Georgia State University; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: Since the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy in the mid-nineties, deaths among persons living with HIV (PLWH) have declined nationally. Now a controllable condition, HIV has become a chronic disease, highlighting the importance of tobacco cessation in lowering morbidity and premature mortality. Current smoking is approximately twice as high among PLWH compared with the general population. PLWH who smoke experience higher rates of cardiovascular disease, AIDS-defining illnesses, and cancer than PLWH who do not smoke. Loss of life-years associated with smoking among PLWH is greater than life-years lost from HIV. Methods: Data on current smoking, derived from the 2009-12 Georgia Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) were analyzed. Smoking rates were calculated by demographic characteristics, and results were compared to those from the 2011 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a population-based telephone survey. Results: The prevalence of current smoking among PLWH was 36.1%, compared with 21.2% among the general population in Georgia. Smoking prevalence for PLWH generally varied by demographic characteristics according to the same pattern as for the general population, but prevalence was consistently higher among PLWH. Conclusions: The prevalence of current smoking among PLWH in Georgia is high. Clinical and public health interventions must address smoking cessation as part of HIV care to prevent disease, improve quality of life, and reduce mortality. HIV-infected smokers have more barriers to quitting (alcohol, depression, drug dependence, and inaccurate risk perception) and a lower quit rate than non-HIV-infected smokers. Efficacy studies of behavioral and pharmacological interventions for smoking cessation specific to PLWH are needed.