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HIV/AIDS Booming in the South - Faces of HIV

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  • S. Alex Williams
    UNITED STATES Experts Say HIV/AIDS Booming in South Associated Press (03.28.04) by: Coralie Carlson According to a report presented Sunday at the National
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1 10:32 AM
      HIV/AIDS Booming in the South - Faces of HIV UNITED STATES

      "Experts Say HIV/AIDS Booming in South"
      Associated Press (03.28.04)
      by: Coralie Carlson

           According to a report presented Sunday at the National HIV/AIDS Update Conference in Miami, the South accounted for only 38 percent of the US population but 40 percent of its AIDS cases in 2002, as well as 46 percent of new AIDS cases from 2000-2002. The report, prepared by Michelle Scavnicky, community relations director for the AIDS Institute, and Kim Williams, a CDC researcher, examined 17 Southern states and Washington, D.C. It said a growing number of people living in rural areas are being diagnosed with HIV, and there are more new infections among blacks and Hispanics.
           Blacks comprised 19 percent of the region's population but accounted for 53 percent of its AIDS cases, the report said. In many small towns, Scavnicky said, a reluctance to discuss sex, drug use and sexual orientation is making prevention difficult. In addition, access to health care is problematic: 17 million Southerners have no health insurance, and many Southern states offer limited Medicare coverage. Scavnicky suggested an increase in state and federal funding for health care and community-based programs to stem the tide of infection. For more information on the National HIV/AIDS Update Conference, visit http://www.amfar.org/cgi-bin/iowa/nauc/.

      "Emerging Face of HIV"
      Chicago Tribune (03.28.04)
      by: Dahleen Glanton

           CDC statistics show AIDS is the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 25-44. In 2002, half of the new adult AIDS cases were reported among African Americans. More than two-thirds of women with AIDS in 1999-2002 were black. And while blacks make up just 19 percent of the South's population, they account for more than half its AIDS cases.
           "This is definitely an epidemic in the South," said Dr. Gene Copello, executive director of the AIDS Institute and co-chair of the Southern AIDS Coalition. "People of color make up the majority of cases in some areas of the country, and racial issues must be addressed."
          Dr. Robert Janssen, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said the Southern numbers should be kept in perspective. Although the rural South has more heterosexual transmission of HIV among African-American women, he explained, the US HIV epidemic still predominantly occurs among men who have sex with men (MSM) and most HIV remains in large and midsized cities.
           According to CDC, MSM still account for an estimated 42 percent of all new HIV infections. Because of stigma, many black men have sex with men on the "down low" while in relationships with women and consider themselves straight.
           Advocates have said the African-American community must take a leadership role to confront the problem, as gays did in the 1980s. Ministers, historically leaders in the black community, have begun to discuss HIV/AIDS after years of avoiding the topic. "The [black] churches are beginning to come on board and people beginning to realize we are in a fight for our lives," said Pernessa Seele, founder of The Balm in Gilead, an African-American AIDS advocacy group in New York. "But there is still a lot of work to be done."

      Alex Williams
      YMSM/TG of Color HIV Coordinator
      National Youth Advocacy Coalition
      1638 R Street, NW, suite 300
      Washington, DC 20009
      (202) 319-7596 ext. 18
      (800) 541-6922 ext. 18
      (202) 319-7365 fax

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