A University of Alabama researcher this week released a study on the roots of the South's HIV/AIDS epidemic, noting that bisexuality is one of the major factors in the spread of HIV in Southern states. Poverty, domestic abuse, and drug abuse are also major contributors to the epidemic, according to the study. Researcher Bronwen Lichtenstein, a professor of women's studies and a member of the Institute for Rural Health Research, said many HIV infections in the South are linked to men who are married or are sexually active primarily with women but who also secretly have sex with other men. Drug use also was linked to a majority of infections among African-Americans in the South, and poverty among all races resulted in higher HIV infection rates, according to the study.
Gene Copello, cochair of the Southern AIDS Coalition and executive director of Florida AIDS Action, said Lichtenstein's research shows why it has been difficult for HIV/AIDS organizations to "peel away layers of secrecy and get to the root of the disease's spread" in the South. "The South hasn't received enough attention, and we have the largest number of new AIDS cases in the country," he said. "It's basically exploding here."