October 19, 2012
According to the Mecklenburg County Health Department, 76 percent of HIV/AIDS cases seen in 2010 were African American, with whites and Hispanics a distant second and third at 16 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Dr. Susan Reif, a researcher for Duke University, notes that the African-American community is disproportionately affected throughout Mecklenburg County, with multiple problems such as access to healthcare after diagnosis. Explains Reif, individuals in North Carolina do not have the same Medicaid coverage for HIV as those in northeast states.
Another issue is housing -- patients cannot maintain their medications if they do not have stable housing. Reif also noted that focus groups with individuals who are HIV positive talked about the Charlotte area being worse in terms of the stigma they felt living there compared with other places. Charlotte ranks #10 in the rate of new HIV diagnosis cases in metropolitan cities of any size in the United States, sharing the top 10 with larger cities, such as Miami, Atlanta, and New York City.