State of HIV in the US Deep South


The Southern United States has been disproportionately affected by HIV diagnoses and mortality. To inform efforts to effectively address HIV in the South, this manuscript synthesizes recent data on HIV epidemiology, care financing, and current research literature on factors that predispose this region to experience a greater impact of HIV. The manuscript focuses on a specific Southern region, the Deep South, which has been particularly affected by HIV. Epidemiologic data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the Deep South had the highest HIV diagnosis rate and the highest number of individuals diagnosed with HIV (18,087) in 2014. The percentage of new HIV diagnoses that were female has decreased over time (2008–2014) while increasing among minority MSM. The Deep South also had the highest death rates with HIV as an underlying cause of any US region in 2014. Despite higher diagnosis and death rates, the Deep South received less federal government and private foundation funding per person living with HIV than the US overall. Factors that have been identified as contributors to the disproportionate effects of HIV in the Deep South include pervasive HIV-related stigma, poverty, higher levels of sexually transmitted infections, racial inequality and bias, and laws that further HIV-related stigma and fear. Interventions that address and abate the contributors to the spread of HIV disease and the poorer HIV-related outcomes in the Deep South are warranted. Funding inequalities by region must also be examined and addressed to reduce the regional disparities in HIV incidence and mortality.

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This research was commissioned by the HIV/AIDS Policy Clinic at Duke University through a Ford Foundation Grant (1115–1373).

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Correspondence to Susan Reif.

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Reif, S., Safley, D., McAllaster, C. et al. State of HIV in the US Deep South. J Community Health 42, 844–853 (2017).

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  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • South
  • Stigma