The domestic HIV
epidemic is becoming one largely centered in Southern
states, with a total of 17 states in the South now
accounting for nearly half of all the country's
new HIV cases, reports the Associated Press. While new
U.S. HIV cases climbed less than 1% nationwide between 2000
and 2004, they rose 9% in the South.
"The South is the
new 'ground zero' for the AIDS epidemic,"
Kathy Hiers, CEO of AIDS Alabama, told the news
agency. "And yet most people have no idea just how bad
it is or how much worse it could get."
Much of the
disease's impact in the South is among
African-Americans, who some officials say are at a
greater risk for the disease because of poverty,
substance abuse, a lack of sex education, and a lack of
access to health services. In Alabama, for example,
African-Americans account for 26% of the population
but account for 70% of new HIV diagnoses. (The