Health Center News

Escalating Disparities Emerge in the War Against HIV/AIDS

NationalcountyprevalencerateNew interactive online maps showcase the impact of HIV across the U.S. and that two-thirds of all new HIV diagnoses occur in three percent of U.S. counties. The maps, released by a project called AIDSVu, uses the latest publicly available data at the city, state, and county levels to track disparities in HIV infections and mortality, both geographically and among different demographics.  Among the trends researchers found were that the Southern U.S. is home to nearly 37 percent of the country’s population, but these states account for half of all new HIV diagnoses (50 percent) and deaths among persons diagnosed with HIV (47 percent).

In 2014, eight of the ten states with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses (Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina) and the top five cities with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses were in the South (Miami, FL; Baton Rouge, LA; Fort Lauderdale, FL; New Orleans, LA; and Jackson, MS).

Even though the number of new HIV diagnoses is on the decline overall, the numbers of HIV diagnoses among youth is growing among  people ages 13 and 24, accounting for almost one quarter (22 percent) of all new HIV diagnoses.  African Americans, especially those who live in the Southern U.S., are also disproportionately impacted by the disease, accounting for 44 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in 2014, even though they make up just 12 percent of the U.S. population.

More alarming is that many people living with the disease do not know they have it.  Of the estimated 1.2 people living with HIV, one in eight do not know they are infected.

“AIDSVu’s data visualizations show us that HIV impacts every corner of the United States, and help us understand the geographic trends of the HIV epidemic. Looking back 35 years ago, the first HIV cases were reported in coastal cities, while HIV now disproportionately impacts Southern states. The new AIDSVu maps released today highlight how the epidemic has changed in recent years, and show how new diagnoses have grown among young people, especially young gay men of color,” said Patrick Sullivan, Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and principal researcher for AIDSVu. “The maps on AIDSVu allow for the most in-depth look at the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and enable people working in HIV research, prevention, and care to turn big data into action on the ground. Seeing where changes in the epidemic are happening helps people at the federal, state, and local levels to most effectively deploy resources to stop the spread of HIV.”

The data also show the importance of HIV testing. People who test positive can take HIV medicines that can keep them healthy for many years and greatly reduce their chance of passing HIV to others. At Community Health Centers 1,194,684 patients were given an HIV test in 2014. We should also note that Monday, June 27, is National HIV Testing day. Learn more about the value of getting tested for HIV by visiting this link at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and then contact your local health center to get tested.

AIDSVu is a project of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc. Now in its sixth year, AIDSVu is continually expanding the data and resources available to give researchers, policymakers, and others working in HIV the most comprehensive understanding of the epidemic.  To view a press release about the project visit this link.