South leads the nation in new HIV infections

LaMar Yarborough greets a friend while volunteering at the 25th Annual AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run in Piedmont Park Sunday, October 18, 2015.

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LaMar Yarborough greets a friend while volunteering at the 25th Annual AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run in Piedmont Park Sunday, October 18, 2015.

The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area ranked fifth among metropolitan areas in the nation for its rate of new HIV diagnoses in 2013, the year for which the most recent data is available, federal records show.

Further, the South — defined broadly by as the District of Columbia and 16 states, including Georgia — ranks first in the nation for its rate of new HIV cases. In 2013, the South had a rate of 20.5 HIV infections per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HIV IN GEORGIA: BY THE NUMBERS

» TIMELINE: HIV through the years

The South’s struggle with HIV is “a public health emergency,” said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, an epidemiology professor at Emory University. He and other experts cited numerous reasons for it, especially poverty. The South is home to the nation’s largest number of people living in poverty. Many lack health insurance. At the same time, people with HIV and AIDS are now living longer than ever in the U.S. because of better treatments.

» Learn more about the HIV epidemic in the South, see a map that tabulates infections for each Georgia county and scroll through a timeline documenting major developments connected to the virus on myajc.com