The South bears the greatest burden of HIV infection, illness, and deaths of any US region, and "lags far behind in providing quality HIV prevention and care to its citizens.”
The CDC has outlined updated plans for “reducing the South’s HIV burden through high-impact prevention.”1
Why the focus on the South?
According to the CDC, the South (defined by the CDC as Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Washington DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida) now experiences the greatest burden of HIV infection, illness, and deaths of any US region, and “lags far behind in providing quality HIV prevention and care to its citizens.”1 Specifically:
There are many factors behind these alarming statistics, and while many have been known for years, some are only recently being appreciated:
The reality is that, today, it is the South that is at the epicenter of the ongoing HIV epidemic in the US. In response, the CDC has allocated more prevention resources to the South, totaling $201 million in 2015, an increase of 22% from 2010.1 I am skeptical that this amount is enough, given the barriers that exist to the access of quality care facilities. It likely will require a major national infrastructure expansion to rectify that situation. In addition, the opposition to expansion of Medicaid is not likely to change any time soon in the region.
And there are many regions throughout the US that suffer from the same barriers to timely diagnosis, lack of access to care, linkage to care, and retention to care. It really is time, in my opinion, for a major increase in funding, on the national level, to make a substantial impact on reducing new HIV infections. Failure to do so now will make it that much harder, and that much more expensive, to do so even 5 years from now.