HIV/AIDS Epidemic Growing Faster in South Than Other Regions, Study Presented at National AIDS Update Conference Says
March 29, 2004
The number of HIV-positive people is rising faster in the South than in any other region of the United States, according to a study presented on Sunday at the American Foundation for AIDS Research 16th National HIV/AIDS Update Conference in Miami, the AP/Gainesville Sun reports. Michelle Scavnicky, community relations director for The AIDS Institute, and CDC researcher Kim Williams presented the study, which examined HIV/AIDS among 17 southern states and the District of Columbia. The study found that people in the South represented 40% of the people living with AIDS and 46% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases in 2002 nationwide, although they accounted for 38% of the U.S. population at that time, according to the AP/Sun. In addition, Scavnicky and Williams said that the epidemic increasingly affects people in rural areas and minorities. For example, while blacks accounted for 19% of the population in the South, they represented 53% of the region's AIDS cases in 2002, Scavnicky and Williams said. Drug use, a reluctance to discuss sex and a lack of access to health care have contributed to the problem, the researchers said (Carlson, AP/Gainesville Sun, 3/28). "Being gay in the South is totally taboo. You are mentally, physically and verbally abused," Wayne Dicks, a health specialist for HopeHealth, said, adding, "There are a lot of 'down low' brothers who live with a woman and go out at night and sleep with men. They don't consider themselves gay" (Glanton, Chicago Tribune, 3/28). In addition, funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the United States has been "increasingly difficult to find," conference co-chair Mervyn Silverman said (AP/Gainesville Sun, 3/28).
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