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The Southeastern United States is experiencing the highest rate of new HIV/AIDS infections, says the executive summary of a research report released Nov. 29 by the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI). The report takes a close look at nine southern states that have been particularly hard hit by the epidemic in recent years: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and (East) Texas.

“With the highest rates of both new HIV diagnoses and HIV-related deaths in the country, as well as poor social determinants of health and high poverty rates, the South faces an urgent need for resources to fight the epidemic now,” said Carolyn McAllaster, director of the Duke AIDS Legal Project and SASI project director. “We cannot afford to be complacent.”

Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of death due to HIV in the country are in the South, according to the report. All nine states targeted in the report are among the 15 states with the highest death rates. The data also indicates that 99.5 percent of people on waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs live in the South.

While much of the world is benefiting from AIDS research and cures, the South is still struggling to recover from the epidemic. So everyone, especially people below the Mason/Dixon line, please wrap up and get tested. It’s hot like Hell in the South (c) Killer Mike.

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