How COVID-19 Impacts Those With HIV

Published by Tucker Bedingfield on

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How COVID-19 Impacts Those Living with HIV

In America, over 1 million people live with HIV.  Georgia in particular has been going through an HIV epidemic for quite some time. Since 2018, an HIV epidemic has been the status for Atlanta especially. In fact, according to Emory University, there are locations in the Atlanta area where the HIV rate is six-to-eight percent higher than other cities in the entire country.

As if being diagnosed with a life-altering virus isn’t enough, the virus comes partnered with a stigma. Many live under the impression that getting HIV means you must be promiscuous. Contrary to this, according to an article released by Emory, the biggest contributor to the epidemic is poverty rather than risky sexual practices. 

The poverty level in Atlanta has been increasing as more people move into the city, a common trend when bigger cities are upsizing. A Bloomberg report published in 2018 found that Atlanta is the city with the worst income inequality in the U.S. Also found in the report, the city’s poverty rate sits at 24%, nearly one-in-four. 

Even more problematic, the HIV rates are the highest in minority groups. Also stated from Emory, Black women are 15% more likely to contract HIV than White women, and HIV is the leading cause of death of Black men in Georgia between the ages of 35-44. HIV is stigmatized to be contracted from unsafe sex habits, but research shows that is not the case. 

In research conducted by Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, it was not due to these patients engaging in unsafe sexual practices, but just that they were more disadvantaged. 

Why is this important? One reason: the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified stress among everyone in the United States. It has brought unemployment, loss of health insurance and loss of housing for a lot of people. This pandemic is a nightmare for everyone, especially those that are immunocompromised. 

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Tucker Bedingfield // Avant-Youth

Not only is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the immunocompromised, but also people of color and those living in poverty. HIV touches people of every demographic, but its effects are felt by those communities the most. 

The good news is that organizations are working diligently to help combat the epidemic, and are working particularly hard during the pandemic. AidAtlanta assists with living expenses, medical expenses, food and transportation. The CDC has released an article about how to cope with stress and anxiety during the pandemic. And if you are a person living with HIV during the pandemic, there are resources to lean on for how to manage HIV and the pandemic.

Right now, it is important to remember how our actions can impact those around us. Stay safe, and stay smart Atlanta.

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Tucker Bedingfield

Tucker Bedingfield is a senior at Kennesaw State University, studying journalism and emerging media. She can usually be found buried in her laptop, coffee in hand, or at the local record shop (coffee still in hand). Bedingfield has had a passion for writing since high school and likes to use her writing skills to tell stories of other people. She is a firm believer that everyone has a fascinating story to share, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions.


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