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Snapshots of Hurricane Katrina's Effect on the AIDS Community
Special Report from The Body

By Bonnie Goldman

September 8, 2005


Lost in the maelstrom of chaos that has followed Hurricane Katrina is the severe impact the storm has had on one very specific group: people living with HIV. Thousands of HIVers, along with the hundreds who once provided them with health services and support, are among those whom the hurricane has forced from their homes. Now, many people with HIV are struggling to regain the assistance they need, while their providers are struggling to get it to them.

The entire HIV/AIDS infrastructure -- AIDS organizations, clinical trial networks, clinics, food delivery, hospitals, AIDS Drug Assistance Program services, etc. -- in New Orleans and other areas in the Gulf Coast has been decimated, with workers and clients now dispersed throughout the region.

In this collection of profiles and interviews, The Body has tried to convey a sense of the challenges that face the Gulf Coast HIV community in Katrina's aftermath. With phone service down in most of the affected areas and people dispersed, reaching many of these people is difficult; we have yet to talk to HIV-positive survivors themselves to see how they are faring. The story, however, is still unfolding, and more details will trickle out in the coming weeks.

Clearly, the obstacles to overcome are enormous. But if these snapshots of the efforts being made in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and our nation's capital are any indication, it's only a matter of time before the dedicated people who provide HIV services in the region are able to reestablish care for thousands of displaced people with HIV in need.

Next: Mississippi, Texas and Washington D.C.

This is the introduction to a series of articles examining the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the U.S. AIDS community. To read other articles in this series, click here.

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