Southern States Lag Behind Rest of Nation in HIV Treatment, Testing

Content From: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPublished: December 07, 20153 min read


Death rates among people living with HIV in some Southern states are three times higher than those living in other parts of the country, according to a new state-by-state analysis on progress in HIV prevention and care released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest data, which come from 2012, show substantial gaps between Southern states and the rest of the country on two key indicators – death rate among people with diagnosed HIV infection and knowledge of HIV status.

The national death rate in 2012 was 19.2 deaths per 1,000 people with diagnosed HIV. But an analysis of rates among states found alarming disparities – from a low of 7.9 deaths per 1,000 people with diagnosed HIV in Vermont to a high of 30.8 in Louisiana. Also, seven of the 10 states that have not met the national 2015 goal were in the Southern region of the U.S.

“It is unacceptable that people with HIV living in many Southern states are more likely to die than those living in other parts of the country,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Some states are making great strides toward getting people with HIV diagnosed and into care, but every state must do this if we are to reach our national goals for prevention and care.”

The data show that Southern states also lagged behind in people knowing their HIV status. Nationally, 87 percent of Americans knew their HIV status in 2012, but this percentage varied substantially across states – from a low of 77 percent in Louisiana to a high of 93 percent in New York and Hawaii.

Across the nation, only five states reached the National Goal of 90 percent awareness (Hawaii, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, and Delaware); 70 percent of the worst-performing states on this indicator were in the South. Particularly in these states, people who do not know they are infected with HIV are not getting the medical care they need to stay healthy and protect their partners.

“CDC is responding to the challenge of HIV in the South and nationwide by prioritizing the hardest-hit areas and populations and investing in the most effective strategies,” said Eugene McCray, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “These strategies include expanded testing for HIV, helping people living with HIV obtain ongoing care and treatment, and increasing awareness of and access to all effective prevention tools, including condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis - or PrEP, and interventions to decrease risky behavior.”

Dr. McCray announced the findings in his plenary speech launching the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference. The conference, convened by the CDC and many public, private, and government agencies, is taking place in Atlanta, Dec. 6-9. This meeting focuses on the full spectrum of HIV prevention, giving community organizations, public health professionals, clinicians, advocates, and other interested individuals the opportunity to exchange information about effective prevention approaches. For more information about the conference, please visit additional information, visit

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