Tuesday, April 14, 2009

AIDS patients in the South find little support

As the region tries to catch up in HIV/AIDS care and awareness, many with the disease struggle with limited medical services and the stigma.

"Some states have significantly less money to engage in disease prevention in their communities, and either the state will have to make up the difference, which is hard to do in these economic times, or there will be harsh outcomes," said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit advocating disease prevention.

A new study by the trust found that during the economic downturn, Midwestern and Southern states are receiving the least federal funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to spend on public health, including AIDS.

Reasons for the funding disparities include lack of money available to the CDC and states failing to aggressively apply for all available funds.

"Without equitable spending across the country, where you live will determine how well you live," Levi said.

The CDC said urban areas, particularly in the Northeast, continue to experience the greatest fallout from AIDS.
The Northeast had the highest AIDS case rate per 100,000 in 2007 at 16.4, followed by the South at 15.1.

The South, however, accounted for 46.4% of new AIDS cases in 2007 and has the greatest number of people estimated to be living with AIDS, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of CDC data.