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U.S. News

Many AIDS Cases, Few HIV Experts in Southern U.S.

June 19, 2012

About half of new AIDS diagnoses in the United States occur in just nine Southern states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee -- according to federal estimates. On Tuesday, a congressional roundtable with stakeholders will focus on how to boost AIDS awareness and access to care in the region.

The South has very few HIV specialists compared with traditional HIV epicenters, said Bruce Packett, deputy executive director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. The nine Southern states combined have just 243 HIV specialists, compared with New York and California, which have 275 and 411 specialists, respectively, he noted. Their distribution "just isn't rationally representative of HIV incidences by state," he said.

"Make no mistake -- HIV/AIDS is devastating communities of color, women, and young gay and bisexual men in the U.S., especially in the South," said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), whose House roundtable co-sponsor is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

"This disease is no longer a metropolitan problem. In fact, infection rates in the rural South are among the fastest-growing in the country," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is sponsoring the Senate session with Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).

Problems that drive higher incidence rates in the South include poverty, racism, cultural conservatism and stigma about HIV, drug use, and sexism, said Ronald Johnson, an AIDS United vice president.

Back to other news for June 2012

Adapted from:
USA Today
06.18.2012; Larry Copeland

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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.
See Also
HIV/AIDS in the South

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