The Deep South region in the US — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — has become the epicenter of the HIV epidemic despite having only 28% of the total American population. A new research has found that the five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS is lower in the Deep South than the rest of the country.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI) at Duke University Law School have done a study on the nine states of the Deep South and found that people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in these states are dying at higher rates than those diagnosed in the rest of the country.
The characteristics of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the Deep South region was compared with that of the national averages and found higher percentages of young people aged 13 to 24, blacks, females, and transmission attributed to heterosexual contact among the region's individuals were diagnosed with HIV.
Income, education and insurance coverage is way more at a lower rate in the Deep South than the rest of the United States. Areas situated away from the major urban areas lack proper transportation and most HIV specialty care is located in urban areas, limiting the HIV-positives to travel.
Many Southern states also criminalize HIV-related sexual behaviors and prohibit syringe exchange programs, thus marginalizing people at high risk for becoming HIV positive, such as sex workers and injection drug users.
Poor health outcomes in the southern states are complicated to handle. Creative programs and the co-location of HIV care with case management, mental health and substance abuse care are important for better management of the epidemic.