Patients in Southern United States Have Lower HIV Survival Rate

Nine state region found to have lowest survival rates nationwide.

Nine state region found to have lowest survival rates nationwide.

A 9-state region in the southern portion of the United States had the nation’s lowest 5-year survival rate among patients diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in 2003-2004, the results of a new study indicate.

Published in the December 2014 edition of the Journal of Community Health, the study found that 15% of people who were diagnosed with HIV and 27% of people diagnosed with AIDS in 2003-2004 died within 5 years of their diagnosis nationwide.

The researchers found disproportionally higher rates of HIV and AIDS in 9 states in the south, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Patients in these states were trended towards being younger, more rural, African-American, and female.

The study also found that these patients were more likely to contract HIV infection through heterosexual sex.

"This research documents the dire consequences that having an HIV diagnosis in the Deep South region has for too many individuals," Carolyn McAllaster, director of the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative, said in a press release.

It was noted that demographic characteristics and transmission risk differences among the US regions did not explain the higher death rate among southern HIV patients, which indicates that other factors may contribute to the differences.

Among these factors are poverty, lower education levels, less insurance coverage, social stigma associated with the disease, and racism, the authors concluded.

"These differences are crucial to consider when creating strategies to address HIV/AIDS in this region," lead author Susan Reif, of the Duke Global Health Institute, said in a press release. "Clearly greater investment and focus are required to address the unique nature of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the South."