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Top 10 Possible Reasons for the High HIV Infection Rate in the Southern U.S.

By Marc Kolman, M.S.P.H.

June 17, 2010

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According to the Southern States Manifesto, more than 36,000 people have died of AIDS in the South as estimated by the CDC and in 2005 the South was burdened with half of all deaths from AIDS in the United States. The Southern US is clearly burdened with HIV to a degree unwarranted by its population size. This is a concern expressed by many and, to some degree, remains a mystery.

Recently, I was on a panel discussion as part of the Week of Prayer in Durham, NC. The last questioner of the evening asked, "Why is HIV so prevalent in the South?" We didn't come up with a scientific list of reasons, and I don't know if there really is such a list, but here's what we came up with (in no particular order) ...

This is, of course, a quick summary of a number of very complex issues, each of which could be dealt with much more extensively. One excellent organization that works to address this issue is the Southern AIDS Coalition, whose mission is to promote accessible and high quality systems of HIV and STD prevention, care, treatment, and housing throughout the South through a unique partnership of government, community, people living with HIV disease, and business entities. The Southern States Manifesto, updated in 2008, discusses HIV in the South and proposes action steps and plans for addressing the situation.

Thanks again for reading.

Marc

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