Blacks Disproportionately Affected by HIV/AIDS in the South

February 7, 2013:  Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) and this year’s theme is “I am my Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS.”  NBHAAD is focused on getting people educated, tested, involved and treated.

In the South, African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.

  • In Alabama, African Americans were only 26% of Alabama’s population in 2011 but 69% of new HIV diagnoses. Moreover, African Americans are diagnosed at a rate that is 7x higher than whites.  A staggering 78% of all HIV diagnosis in females are among African American females. (HIV Integrated Epidemiological Profile 2011)
  • In Florida, Blacks accounted for 49% of total HIV diagnosis and 60% of AIDS case deaths in 2011, even though Blacks made up approximately 15% of Florida’s population. (HIV Among Blacks Fact Sheet)
  • In Georgia, Blacks compromised 77% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2009.  From 2000-2009, Black males were frequently diagnosed at a rate that was 5x that of white males and 3x that of Hispanic males. From 2000-2009, Blacks had an HIV death rate that was over 3x that of other racial/ethnic groups. (Basic Epidemiological Profile of HIV/AIDS)
  • In Louisiana, 76% of new HIV diagnosis and 76% of new AIDS diagnosis were among African Americans in 2009. (Louisiana Public Health Institute)
  • In Mississippi, African American males are 9x more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white males. (Mississippi State Department of Health)  In 2010, African Americans only compromised 37% of Mississippi’s population, but made up 78% of new HIV infections. (The Lancet)
  • In North Carolina, in 2011, African Americans represented 68% of all HIV diagnoses. (2011 HIV/STD Surveillance Report)
  • In South Carolina, the HIV case rate among African-Americans is approximately 10x greater than whites.  African Americans make up only 28% of South Carolina’s population but 76% of recent HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Almost 7,000 African-American men in SC are living with HIV. (Maudlin Patch)
  • In Tennessee, 57% of those diagnosed with HIV through the end of 2012, and 54% of HIV deaths, have been among African Americans even though African Americans only make up 17% of Tennessee’s population. In 2012, the HIV/AIDS case rate among African Americans was 9x that of whites. (WGNS Radio)
  • In Texas, Blacks make up less than 12% of the state’s population but account for 40% of new HIV diagnoses and 38% of all people living with HIV in TX.  In 2011, black women were only 12% of Texas female population, but 58% of new HIV diagnoses among females. In 2011, the HIV rate among Black men  in Texas was 5x that of White men and 3x that of Hispanic men.  An estimated 17.5% of Black gay men & MSM are living with HIV. (Texas DSHS)
  • Washington, D.C. had the highest diagnosis rate for Blacks in the US in 2010. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Notably, “[r]esearch shows that African Americans do not engage in riskier behavior than members of other racial/ethnic groups.” (CDC) However, social and economic factors, such as poverty, racial discrimination  stigma, incarceration, and barriers to health care and housing, all contribute to the HIV epidemic in African American communities. (CDC)

The high rates of HIV among African American communities and these underlying social and economic determinants demonstrate that it is not only important to advocate for the end of HIV/AIDS in our communities today, but every day.

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