CDC Ends Funding for Georgia To Participate in ‘Cutting-Edge’ HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program, Atlanta Journal-Constitution ReportsCDC officials on Thursday confirmed that the agency has stopped funding for Georgia to participate in a "cutting-edge" surveillance program aimed at determining trends in HIV/AIDS nationwide, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The first results from the program about annual new HIV infections in the U.S. were announced by CDC earlier this month. Georgia had received more than $1 million in CDC funding to participate in the program, but CDC removed the state from its latest round of funding, which began in January and runs for five years.
According to state officials, Georgia will still track and report HIV/AIDS cases, but it will not benefit from new technologies and methods available from the CDC program. For example, one of the new technologies available in the program is an HIV test that can determine if an HIV-positive person contracted the virus within the past five months, according to the Journal-Constitution. State officials have said that the CDC program estimated that 2,100 people in Georgia were newly infected with HIV in 2006, adding that they could not put this figure into perspective because they have no previous numbers for comparison. CDC officials said that the test can help determine "real time" trends about where HIV/AIDS is spreading and what groups it is affecting. "It's a setback," Carlos del Rio, co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research, said of Georgia being cut from the program. He added, "In order to have effective prevention, we need to know who is getting infected today, not 10 years ago."
CDC officials would not discuss why Georgia was not included in the latest funding round but said that the state was not among the 25 areas that were selected following an application process. Irene Hall, chief of CDC's HIV/AIDS incidence and case surveillance branch, said that Georgia had provided "adequate" data during the program's first round. She added that CDC has reduced the number of areas funded under the program from 34 to 25 cities and states. CDC has increased funding for Georgia's basic HIV/AIDS surveillance by 70% this year to $726,257. According to Jennifer Taussig, state HIV/AIDS surveillance coordinator, the additional funding will be used to bolster reporting efforts.
Some advocates said that Georgia never has been at the forefront of HIV surveillance, testing or prevention and that the loss of CDC funding worsens the situation. According to Jeff Cheek, local director of Georgia's Ryan White Program funding that is allocated to 20 counties in the Atlanta area, the state should increase its efforts to promote HIV testing and prevention (Schneider, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/22). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.