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U.S. News

HIV Exacts Big Cost in South

April 22, 2009

The South is currently home to more than half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, according to the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC). In 2006, the federal government revised the formula for Ryan White distributions, boosting HIV/AIDS money to the region. But health care providers say they are still catching up from years of underfunding, and many Southern HIV/AIDS patients continue to lack adequate health care, housing, and transportation services.

"Certainly the $30 million shifted to the South helped, but we still have bigger problems," said Kathie Hiers, former co-chair of SAC, which is composed of health professionals. "There needs to be a better level of parity between the states. The money should follow the epidemic, but the way it stands now, the cities get way more per person than the rural areas."

Urban areas, especially in the Northeast, continue to be the epicenter of the epidemic, says CDC. The Northeast had an AIDS case rate of 16.4 per 100,000 in 2007, followed by the South at 15.1. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of CDC data showed the South accounted for 46.4 percent of new AIDS cases that year as well.

"While the South has faced a higher burden of AIDS, the bulk of available data do not suggest that the epidemic in the South is worsening," said Dr. Richard Wolitiski, acting director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

The current economic crunch could hamper progress on HIV/AIDS funding in the South. A new study by the Trust for America's Health shows that during the downturn, Midwestern and Southern states are receiving fewer public health funds from CDC. This may be due to a lack of money available to CDC at the federal level and states failing to aggressively apply for all existing grants, said Jeff Levi, the trust's executive director.

Back to other news for April 2009

Adapted from:
Chicago Tribune
04.13.2009; Dahleen Glanton

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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.
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