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With more than one in nine gay black residents infected with the disease, at least one expert has compared Atlanta's HIV/AIDS situation to America's worst-ever HIV/AIDS crisis.

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“Atlanta is like New York was in the ’80s in the need to develop a public health response to a serious [HIV] epidemic,” Devin-Barrington Ward, an advocate based in Washington, D.C., who helped organize a symposium on the crisis, tells Al Jazeera America in a new report.

Georgia now ranks second among U.S. states in the rate of new HIV diagnoses, behind only Louisiana, and Atlanta ranks fifth among metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more, the network said.

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At 12%, the rate for gay black men in the city is now “one of the highest figures for HIV incidence ever recorded in a population in the resource-rich world,” according to the National AIDS Manual. AIDS is now the leading cause of death among black people in Georgia ages 35 to 44, according to the state Department of Public Health.

“None of my colleagues [nationally] are seeing those numbers,” said Dr. Wendy Armstrong, a researcher at Emory University’s Center for AIDS Research.“It’s appalling.”

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.