The organization observed the Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in Birmingham, Ala. to declare its goal to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the southern U.S.
Southern AIDS Coalition participant Marvin Anderson said stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in the south is the new epidemic. And, this stigma prevents people and families from getting tested. The organization created a 10-year, $100 million plan to give assistance to southern organizations, offering resources that will help end the stigma tied to the disease.
Anderson said, even with all the advances in medical technology and care, over half of the undiagnosed infections are thought to be in the south.
AIDSVu, an HIV/AIDS research group, offers an interactive map on its website. This map can give users a better idea of where the highest rates of people living with HIV/AIDS live – locally, statewide and nationally.
Anderson said the lack of resources, education, poverty levels, socioeconomic classes and the inability for good health care has led to the southern U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic. He said other organization leaders from the southern states will get together and meet with HIV-infection individuals to create an action plan.
Anderson said one goal is to give them the tools and knowledge to be a better advocate for themselves, to voice what life is like living with HIV and to be considered a human.
He said the primary goal is to change the way people see a diagnosis.
Anderson said, ending the stigma means eliminating the barriers that lead to a new diagnosis.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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