Southern States Criticized for Hurting Fight against AIDS

Sunday, November 28, 2010
Misguided public policies are fueling the AIDS epidemic in the American South, says Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a new report (Southern Exposure: HIV and Human Rights in the Southern United States). The organization blames leaders in Southern states for undermining attempts to slow the spread of the disease, by not providing comprehensive sex education in schools, by passing laws that impede access to sterile syringes, and by imposing criminal penalties for exposing others to HIV. Southern states also lead the nation in the number of people without health insurance.
HRW says that about half of all AIDS fatalities in the U.S. occur in the South, which has the nation’s highest infection rates. African-Americans in particular suffer a disproportionate “burden of infection.” For example, blacks in Mississippi make up 37% of the population, but 76% of new HIV cases. African-Americans are 28% of the South Carolina’s population, but 72% of people living with AIDS.
In Alabama, 72% of people testing positive for HIV are not in care and in Arkansas the ratio is 65%.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Southern Exposure (Human Rights Watch)


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