5 Facts About the HIV Crisis in the South

Did you know February is National African-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Month? We’re teaming up with Chattanooga C.A.R.E.S. and Society of Work to show deepsouth, a documentary film about the neglected HIV/AIDS crisis in the rural American South.

Below, we’ve compiled five facts about the HIV crisis in the South. Join us on Thursday, February 23 at 6pm at The Edney Innovation Center to learn more from the free film screening and a panel discussion about the impact of HIV/AIDS here in Chattanooga.

  1. In 2013, the Deep South region, which is only 28% of the US population, accounted for 40% of new HIV diagnoses and 43% of new AIDS diagnoses. The Deep South is comprised of nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

  2. From 2008 to 2013, 21,308 people in the Deep South died from an HIV-related cause. In fact, the Deep South has the highest fatality rates from HIV in the country.

  3. In 2013, HIV disease was the 9th leading cause of death for black men and the 12th leading cause of death for black women in the Deep South region. African Americans in Tennessee are disproportionately affected by HIV, comprising 60 percent of the 712 newly reported HIV cases in 2015 within the state. In that same year, African Americans represented 56 percent of all Tennesseans living with a diagnosis of HIV, while making up only 17 percent of the state’s population.

  4. Many of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the South are poor and living in rural areas without access to reliable transportation. Some do not have running water or shelter.  A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in 2012 found that more than 40 percent of those infected have an annual household income of $10,000 or less.

  5. Medicaid programs in the South have the strictest eligibility requirements to qualify for aid, which prevents people living with HIV/AIDS from getting care through the program. In the South, HIV/AIDS patients must qualify for disability to receive care.

The screening of deepsouth will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Enora “Nori” Moss. This is the sixth in the Cinematics program series, a yearlong movie experience that combines the education of The Chattery and the collaboration of Society of Work to teach and engage Chattanoogans in conversation through the art of film. The series has been sponsored by UNFoundation. Sign up for the film screening here

We’re grateful to Chattanooga CARES for sponsoring this important screening. Chattanooga CARES is the Tennessee Valley’s leading resource for HIV, providing education, prevention, and support to all people affected by the virus. The CARES facility offers free rapid HIV testing and Hepatitis C testing, as well as STI testing. CARES’s medical clinic provides comprehensive primary health care, substance abuse and mental health services, adherence counseling, patient education, nutritional services, and specialty medical services. Chattanooga CARES also provides an array of client services including one-on-one case management, support groups, assistance with rent/mortgages, utilities, food, client education, and job placement. For more information about Chattanooga CARES, please call (423) 648-9920 or email Russell Waldrop at russellw@chattanoogacares.org.

Information sourced from Southern Aids Strategy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Southern AIDS Coalition.