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Kandi Burruss, Ryan Cameron Host Forum on the Spread of HIV in Atlanta for World AIDS Day

Approximately 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States and about 13% of them don't know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV continues to disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minorities and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

Georgia is at the height of the HIV epidemic being the number one state with new HIV diagnoses and Atlanta was the second major metropolitan in new HIV diagnoses. This is why conversations surrounding preventing the spread of HIV are important and are especially necessary in the Black community.

This past World AIDS Day, Gilead hosted its Creating Equity, Taking Action panel discussion with Real Housewives of Atlanta's Kandi Burruss, Atlanta's Majic 107.5's Ryan Cameron and Hampton University's Byron Perkins. The community forum was intended to help address the HIV epidemic in Black communities and discuss ways to continue moving the needle toward renewed purpose. Other special guests included actor and reality star Miss Lawrence, Married to Medicine's Dr. Contessa Metcalfe, Rickey Smiley Morning Show's Gary Wit Da Tea, Gilead's Director of Medical Affairs Jonathan Anderson, Positive Impact Health Center's Justin Smith and Gilead's Vice President of Advancing Health and Black Equity Rashad Burgess.

This forum provided a platform for the community to make their voices heard and to hear from key community leaders and celebrity innovators on how to end this epidemic. The panel and guests spoke on preventative measures to slow down the spread of HIV like taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which is a medication that can reduce the chances of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. Knowing your status was another way discussed to help stop the spread of HIV. The Joint United Nations HIV AIDS program has set targets for where the world should be in regard to the progress of combatting HIV. Its set target is that by the year 2025, we should have 95% of all people in the world who are living with HIV to know their status and 95% of those people to be taking highly effective anti-retroviral therapy.

Disparities in access to HIV prevention medicines are sizable in the South and among Black people who live in the South. People in the South account for 52% of HIV diagnoses in the United States but only 39% of PrEP users. In 2020, Black people account for 35% of the Atlanta population, but 74% of people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Atlanta. The reason for this spans across social determinants of health like lack of insurance, unemployment and education.

Our community needs to stop acting like HIV is taboo and start taking control of this epidemic so that we can save lives. It's great that these celebrities and key community leaders are utilizing their platforms to engage and inform our community about the HIV epidemic.

Check out more photos from the event below.

For more information on HIV, click here.

*Statistics from Gilead*

Photo Credit: Justin Englehardt


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