Today, legendary Georgia Congressman John Lewis Lewis (D-Atlanta), who has advocated and fought on behalf of human rights for the past half century, is now imploring citizens to get tested on World AIDS Day.
Lewis, who famously walked in front of the pack across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. during “Bloody Sunday” in order to secure voting rights for all Americans, is encouraging people to walk into HIV/AIDS testing offices to procure their personal status.
For his part, Lewis will visit the Infectious Disease Program of the Grady Health System to highlight the need for HIV/AIDS testing and treatment. Georgia ranks second in the country for the diagnosis of new HIV infections, and Atlanta ranks fifth among similar metropolitan areas in the country for new diagnoses. Half of the patients diagnosed with HIV in Grady Memorial Hospital’s emergency room testing program are found to be late or end stage HIV or AIDS cases. Today HIV and AIDS is disproportionately affecting young black gay and bisexual men, mainly because of the lack of testing and treatment within the community.
That is why Rep. Lewis is visiting Grady’s infectious disease program today to highlight the need for education and testing among Atlanta metro area residents.
Rep. Lewis said, “The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘The Time to Act is Now’. We in Atlanta must say, OUR TIME IS NOW. If you haven’t been tested, get tested. I’ve been tested. The medicine we have today is saving lives and even stopping the spread of the disease. This disease no longer needs to be a death sentence. Many people are living with HIV and AIDS today. I know that seeing a doctor can sometimes be embarrassing or difficult, but your life is precious. Testing is easy and simple. Do it now. If your results show you are free of the disease, make sure you get information about how you can stay safe.”
In May of this year, Rep. Lewis signed a bi-partisan letter sent to the White House by 32 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from primarily Southern states, requesting an increase in CDC and government funding dedicated to the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the South.