Georgia lawmakers discuss escalating STIs across state
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Lawmakers met on Monday to address Georgia’s escalating number of sexually transmitted infections, numbers that don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
“Our state is one of the leaders of the HIV cases in the country. And that number is growing. And we need to know why,” said Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta).
Data from the Georgia Department of Public Health last year shows 72,639 chlamydia infections, 31,453 gonorrhea infections, and 7,407 syphilis infections for a total of over 111,500 infections.
That’s an increase of over 5,000 new infections in the last year.
The number of Georgia congenital syphilis cases in 2022 was also more than four times the number in 2017.
“As an African American male, I am just mortified right now that 71% of our AIDS cases in Georgia were Black people,” said Georgia State Representative Teddy Reese, District 140.
The data is unsettling to many state lawmakers, like Rep. Teddy Reese (D-Columbus). His uncle died from HIV when he was in eighth grade.
“I remember watching him slowly decline and it was such a burden on my family,” he said.
Reese wants more testing and says a big problem is the lack of access to healthcare.
“We got to stop playing politics with this and we got to be honest. People need access to healthcare,” Reese said.
Rep. Cooper, who is Chairman of the Public Health Committee, says there isn’t an easy answer for the increase of sexually transmitted infections across our state.
She held this meeting to start tackling some of these crucial questions.
“We need to know what programs are working and what programs are not working, and we need to get an action plan going to see what we can do as legislators to change that,” said Rep, Cooper.
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