Two recent studies show the staggering reach of HIV in metro Atlanta, documenting how the region leads other large urban areas in HIV diagnoses and how as many as 1 in 2 gay men in some counties are HIV-positive.
The South – and its mix of poverty, unemployment, lack of education and health insurance – has long been a hotbed for HIV. And Georgia – along with metro Atlanta – are among the leaders in HIV rates in study after study.
A new report from the Big Cities Health Coalition highlights the problem – again. Among 28 large urban areas studied, Atlanta's rate of HIV diagnoses was the second highest, behind only Washington, D.C. The region's rate is also five times higher than the national average, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
HIV diagnoses rate in Atlanta (72.5 out of 100,000) was higher than every other city studied, with the exception of Washington, D.C. (91.4 out of 100,000). The U.S. average is 13.4 percent.
Other indicators in the coalition's report were just as startling:
- Atlanta had the highest AIDS diagnoses rate of all the cities studied but Washington, D.C. The national average is 8 AIDS cases per 100,000 people. The rate in Atlanta and Fulton County is 30.4, with Washington, D.C. at 48.9.
- Atlanta's HIV-related mortality rate is nearly four times the national average and the second-highest of cities included in the study. Atlanta's rate is 8.1 per 100,000 people, compared to a U.S. average of 2.1. Long Beach, Calif., ranked highest with a rate of 16.7 HIV-related deaths per 100,000 people.
- The rate of people living with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta and Fulton is 1,613.3 per 100,000 people – nearly six times the national rate of 295.1. That's third behind Washington, D.C. (2,714) and San Francisco (1,903.4).
A new data platform offers a window into public health nationwide.
You already know Boston is a healthy city. But have you ever wondered how it stacks up against, say, New York or Las Vegas?
A new data platform from the Big Cities Health Coalition lets you see for yourself. The Big Cities Health Inventory Data Platform 2.0 has sorted 17,000 data points into an interactive platform that allows viewers to explore 50 public health indicators in 28 of the country’s largest cities.
So, does Boston hold its own? It depends where you look.
On the bright side, Boston has*:
- The third-lowest adult obesity rate, at 21.7 percent of residents
- One of the nation’s lowest heart disease mortality rates, at 133.6 deaths per 100,000 people
- A very low HIV-related mortality rate, at 2.9 deaths per 100,000 residents
- One of the country’s highest life expectancies, at 80.2 years
- The third-lowest percentage (4.1 percent) of mothers under the age of 20
On the not-so-bright side, Boston has*:
- The highest opioid overdose rate of any city
- A shockingly low percentage (24.2 percent) of adult residents meeting physical activity guidelines, despite our vibrant fitness community
- The third-highest percentage (25.4 percent) of adults who binge drink
- A high rate of salmonella infections
The database touches on numerous other public health indicators, from environmental health to poverty rates. If your curiosity has been piqued, you can play with the platform here.
This article originally appeared as an op-ed in The Hill newspaper.
by Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition
October 15 will mark National Latinx AIDS Day across America, which is an opportunity to take stock of the great strides made towards defeating the virus and eliminating the stigma it can create. (The term Latinx serves as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino/Latina).
Science has come a long way since HIV and AIDS became a part of the national consciousness in the early 1980’s, but as experts have learned, if those advances are not shared with everyday people, and if awareness about the disease and how to prevent it does not grow, then disease rates can continue to climb, despite breakthroughs in the laboratory.
This is where public health expertise makes the difference. According to the American Public Health Association, public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. Several American cities have created innovative strategies to lower AIDS and HIV rates by speaking directly to Hispanic residents – especially youth – about how they can be proactive in protecting themselves and their partners. The theme of the day this year is “Defeat AIDS, con GANAS” ('with our wholehearted efforts,') and perhaps no city embodies that spirit more than Houston. Policy makers all over the country should take notice of their work.