Many AIDS Cases, Few HIV Specialists In South

Source: Larry Copeland / USA Today

ATLANTA – Roughly half of all new AIDS diagnoses are occurring in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North CarolinaSouth Carolina and Tennessee, according to federal estimates.

Overlying that dismal reality is another: There’s a severe shortage of HIV specialists in the South, which exacerbates access to treatment for people living with the disease in the region, according to one of the nation’s leading AIDS advocacy organizations.

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AIDS United, a Washington-based group that provides grants to community organizations, is starting a push to control AIDS in the South. The group seeks to spread awareness of the problem and highlight ways of providing access to care in a congressional roundtable Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

There are much higher concentrations of HIV specialists in traditional “epicenters” of the HIV epidemic — 411 in California; 275 in New York state — compared with 243 in the nine Southeast states, says Bruce Packett, deputy executive director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. This concentration of expert care “just isn’t rationally representative of HIV incidences by state,” he says.

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