HIV Entrenched in U.S. South's Poorest Counties
July 11, 2011
Though HIV is still viewed by some as a gay and urban problem, a new county-level map of infection data shows the vast inroads AIDS has made in America's heartland, particularly the South.
Rolling Fork, Miss., is typical. The tiny farming community's HIV infection rate, 249 cases for every 100,000 people, is comparable to that of New York or San Francisco. Roughly 35 percent of county residents live under the federal poverty limit. Unemployment in Rolling Fork stands at about 10 percent. Most residents are black.
Rolling Fork Mayor James Denson said he was unaware that the community's HIV rate is so high. But Michael Baker, one of three doctors in the community, was not surprised. "That may just be the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately," Baker said.
Jackson, Miss., AIDS activist Cedric Sturdevant said homophobia plays a key role. "You don't want people to know you're homosexual, if that's the case. If you're heterosexual and you get infected, you don't want people to put you in the category of being homosexual," he noted. "People don't want to get into care because they're afraid their families will find out" and reject them.
07.11.2011; Steve Sternberg; Jack Gillum
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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