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Old 04-25-2003, 03:25 PM   #1
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"The AIDS epidemic is out of control in the South."

AIDS tightens grip on South
Region has 40% of U.S. cases, experts report

By CHARLES SEABROOK
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The AIDS epidemic is "drastically and quickly" increasing in the South, which already faces a dire shortage of resources to combat the disease, health officials said in a new report Thursday.

"In essence, we're declaring a state of emergency in the South," said Dr. Gene Copello, co-chairman of the Southern AIDS Coalition, made up of health officials in 14 states, including Georgia. "The AIDS epidemic is out of control in the South."

Georgia officials said the findings mirror the course of the epidemic in the state.

According to the report:

While the South represents a little more than one-third of the U.S. population, it accounts for 40 percent of people who have AIDS and 46 percent of new cases. Georgia, which has 11,193 people with the disease, ranks seventh in the nation for the number of cases.

Between 2000 and 2001, the estimated number of new AIDS cases in the South increased while other regions experienced declines or relatively stable levels.

Southern cities represent 18 of the top 25 U.S. metropolitan areas hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic. Atlanta is one of the 18.

Seven of the states with the 10 highest AIDS rates are located in the South. Georgia's AIDS rate of 20.8 cases per 100,000 population is sixth-highest.

The face of the disease, said the report, is becoming increasingly rural, female, heterosexual and African-American in the South. AIDS is appearing with alarming frequency in rural Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama.

Copello, who is also director of Florida AIDS Action in Tampa, said the coalition compiled the report in response to the region's rising crisis in AIDS and HIV infections, which cause the disease.

The group called for a "bold response" at the federal, state and local levels for funding and providing outreach and treatment to combat the surging epidemic.

"The resources are not available to meet the needs," Copello said. "Unless some crucial steps are taken, the epidemic will get worse. We plan to be very loud and forceful about this."

The South is more greatly plagued by AIDS and HIV infections because of racial and economic differences and a conservative cultural attitude that interferes with attempts to halt the disease, the report said.

More than half of the people with AIDS in the South are African-American, though only 20 percent of the region's population is Black. African-American men are less likely to acknowledge that they are in a high-risk group for AIDS and are less likely to volunteer for HIV testing, researchers say.

Southern rural areas also have poor health care access. "In some states, due to limited resources, persons with HIV must become considerably ill before obtaining access to necessary care," the report said.

Some states, such as Georgia and North Carolina, have waiting lists for residents to receive expensive drugs to stave off effects of the HIV virus. One official said other states, including Florida, were at risk of the same fate.

HIV/AIDS rates also are much higher in communities in which poverty is high and adequate housing is lacking, the report said. In addition, it said AIDS/HIV rates closely parallel the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis and gonorrhea.

The South, the report noted, has the highest rates for those maladies in the nation.
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Old 04-25-2003, 03:29 PM   #2
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They're probably still under the delusion that it is a "gay disease."

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Old 04-25-2003, 07:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
They're probably still under the delusion that it is a "gay disease."
Yep, dat's what we all thinks down hear.

And weir all smart Baptist Christiuns so wee wont catch the AIDS.

Thar's some gay folks down hear with the AIDS, butt all the ress of us is save by Jesus.

Thar's a man in mi trayler parkk with the AIDS, but he must be a gay cauz he has long hare and I seen him nekkid in my cuzzin's trayler one time. He awso givez his self shots like the doctor sometimes, but dont change the needuls like they doo at the clinik. He givz my cuzzin those shots after his shots, but she is saved by Jesus too. He akts really weird befor an after he takes that medicine. Now my cuzzin, shez real pritty girl, but she cant catch the AIDS from dat man cuz shes a good straight Christiun girl. They sometimes play in her bed together some dayz though. She ain't bin feelin so grate thees days, week an sikk all the time.

They have a TV for awl of us in the game room behine the suparattendant's trayler, and they showed us some AIDS march but we dint know none of them people marchin.

My spalling mite not be good, but wee r delusional down hear, so x cuse me. Butt yure rite its only a gay disease thing.

~U2abamal
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Old 04-25-2003, 07:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
They're probably still under the delusion that it is a "gay disease."

Melon
this is a surprising comment from you, melon.
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Old 04-25-2003, 07:16 PM   #5
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"They" does not refer to you. "They" does not refer to *all* Southerners. In fact, "they" refers to all parts of this country. But you know what? Let's live in this fantasy that people in this nation are as enlightened as the government agitprop likes us to believe.

There are too many religions that think still that AIDS is a gay plague, and this translates onto believers; believers across the nation. As we can see, it's now gone out of control in a part of our nation.

If you're going to have this smitten attitude every time there is a topic dealing with the South, assuming that I stereotype everyone there (despite the fact that I have apologized several times), then leave me alone in the future.

I think your post is at least 10x more offensive than anything I've ever written. I see you know your stereotypes well.

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Old 04-25-2003, 09:23 PM   #6
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The South is more greatly plagued by AIDS and HIV infections because of racial and economic differences and a conservative cultural attitude that interferes with attempts to halt the disease, the report said.

This statement bothered me the most. The "conservative cultural attitude that intereferes with attempts to halt the disease,". Call me silly, but I do not know what this means. Are they saying that religion interferes? WHat about the conservative culture of the south makes it hard to combat aids?
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Old 04-25-2003, 10:47 PM   #7
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I'm a Southerner also. I'm concerned about the AIDS statistics. I'd like to know where exactly the AIDS cases are turning up. There are some parts of the South that are shot to hell economically and other parts that are more prosperous. Sure we have our share of conservative Christians, in both the African American and white communities. I suppose it's being assumed that they don't want to talk about sex, and you've got to talk about sex to talk about AIDS. I don't know that we're any more uptight about this than other Americans, actually, but it's sometimes assumed that we are. I have never lived outside of the South so I can't compare. I would imagine that economics is playing a big role in this.
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Old 04-25-2003, 11:36 PM   #8
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thats terrible that we have the AIDS problem we have. It often feels like we arent doing anything about it but at the same time I know that we are.
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Old 04-26-2003, 12:50 AM   #9
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I'm a southerner too verte76 and I can say from what I have witnessed, it still has to do with perception as much as ignorance. He/she looks good, come's from a good Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Jehova Whitness, any demonation, secular, fundamentalist.... home, so they can't get or spread HIV or Aids What's wrong here? Part of the problem is you never hear about these statistics. It seems to only be reflected in rural, black or desperately poor communities where quite frankly, resources are not funded to the extent of communities that can have their secrets kept quite. Don't kid yourself, HIV and Aids are rampant in the upperscale communities. It's just not reported, because too many people are still under the impression " it can't happen to someone like me." and they keep spreading it. This is where the ignorance is... It really is too sad for words.
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Old 04-26-2003, 12:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
"They" does not refer to you. "They" does not refer to *all* Southerners. In fact, "they" refers to all parts of this country. But you know what? Let's live in this fantasy that people in this nation are as enlightened as the government agitprop likes us to believe.
Thanks for granting me an exemption from the "they" class. I do consider myself unique amongst most Southerners; I despise NASCAR and hunting while most Southerners enjoy one or the other or both.

Quote:
Originally posted by melon
There are too many religions that think still that AIDS is a gay plague, and this translates onto believers; believers across the nation. As we can see, it's now gone out of control in a part of our nation.
I can firmly tell you that the United Methodist Conference of North Alabama does NOT consider AIDS to be a "gay plague," and I am equally certain that the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, and most of the other mainline denominations here do not consider it a "gay plague." I will not deny that many Christians and Christian denominations in this area consider homosexual activity to be a sin.

Quote:
Originally posted by melon
If you're going to have this smitten attitude every time there is a topic dealing with the South, assuming that I stereotype everyone there (despite the fact that I have apologized several times), then leave me alone in the future.
Melon, to be honest with you, I have never been truly "offended" (in the modern, politically correct "constitutional" sense of the word) by any of your anti-Southern stereotypes. I merely seek to prove a point, as we all do in these forums, about double standards. I can say from my own personal experience that there is some validity to some of the Southern stereotypes that you have illustrated in the past. But they are still "stereotypes." I appreciate your apologies, but don't bother as it's not that big of a deal; I am not going to go file a civil rights lawsuit over it, nor will I even complain to the moderators about it. Just remember that I view double standards as a double-edged sword that can pierce the arguments of their practitioners.

Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I think your post is at least 10x more offensive than anything I've ever written. I see you know your stereotypes well.
I'm sorry if you found it offensive; I was merely trying to fulfill the stereotype that I detected in your post.

Back to the real topic of this thread, it should be noted that my observation is the racial and economic factors are more relevant to this particular epidemic, and the religious influence is less significant. The overwhelming share of this trend is in rural African-American communities stretching from the Mississippi Delta region, across the Alabama Black Belt, and into the Alabama/Georgia wiregrass region. Some of these communities in Alabama have recorded unemployment levels as high as 27% in the past decade. Local politicians buy absentee ballots to stay in power and threaten their constituents. In what seemed like a small, quiet country town, I asked a state trooper once while I was working there "What kind of crimes happen here?" thinking the big problems would be cow tipping; without hesitation, he replied "Crack."

The "Bible Belt," Bible-thumping, white, Southern Baptist preachers so often associated with homophobic crusades are absent in this region (demographically and spiritually). The African-American clergy in the area do not preach sermons of AIDS being a "gay plague." In fact, they do what they can to help such people with the limited resources they have, but the collection plate is not going to fill up very fast at a poor church in a poor community.

Fortunately, U.S. Senators and Congressmen, black and white, Republican and Democratic, are beginning to recognize the problem and seek a solution. AIDS is not the only problem in the region; perhaps it is a symptom of the root problems. Education, economic development, improved health care, all of these are solutions that are being thrown around and given serious consideration.

I commend Senator Zell Miller (Democrat - Georgia) for his bill to establish the Southern Regional Commission to assist the 242 counties that are too often neglected; and I commend SEnator Jeff Sessions (Republican - Alabama) for his pledge to expand access to free and reduced cost healthcare in Alabama's Black Belt region. It is also interesting to note that Alabama Congressmen Spencer bachus (Republican - Birmingham) and Artur Davis (Democrat - Birmingham), did NOT celebrate President Bush's pledge of $50BB in African AIDS funding, despite the fact that Bachus had earlier led the charge for African debt relief. Was it a change of heart? No, it was simply based onthe fact that these two Congressmen felt that a similar boost of funding was needed to address the epidemic in their own state.

Basically, my view is that economic and political obstacles are the current problem, and the cultural part comes not in the form of strict religious mores, but in accepted drug use and sexual promiscuity in the area. Very few of the AIDS victims in the aforementioned areaswould have gotten it from homosexual activity; unfortunately, there are babies born HIV-positive, similiar to but on a much smaller scale than the African pandemic.

I am optimistic that solutions are possible as more people become aware of the problem. I do not think that stereotypes or false accusations will improve anything.

~U2Alabama
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Old 04-26-2003, 01:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2Bama
I am optimistic that solutions are possible as more people become aware of the problem. I do not think that stereotypes or false accusations will improve anything.
No...I agree. I've been cranky lately, and that's usually my downfall here in these forums. Luckily, I thought my way through it via my journal here.

I hate stereotypes at their core, but, admittedly, I would dare find someone who *doesn't* have them. Something I have to work at...

Melon
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Old 04-26-2003, 08:25 AM   #12
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Thanks for admitting that you've been crabby, Melon.

Bama, your post was very eloquent and thorough; nice job.

I was going through this thread just searching for the "close" button, but I see now that it is unnecessary.

Back to the topic at hand: I read a Salon article a while back that theorized very interestingly that a possible reason for the spread of AIDS in the South has to do with the culture of politeness and civility that is so important, particularly in states like Georgia and South Carolina. Some people are afraid to pry enough to ask about STDs in a potential sex partner, or think it rude to ask a partner to use a condom if he isn't already.

I don't know how much water that holds, but it's compelling. I'll try to find the link.
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Old 04-26-2003, 12:44 PM   #13
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That's interesting, pax. Definitely thought-provoking. Yes, we like manners and such. It's possible that these don't always help us.
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Old 04-28-2003, 06:24 AM   #14
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Pax, did you find the link?
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Old 04-28-2003, 08:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
The South is more greatly plagued by AIDS and HIV infections because of racial and economic differences and a conservative cultural attitude that interferes with attempts to halt the disease, the report said.
I obviously can't read the authors mind, but I would think it could mean:
-Conservatives might be opposed to sex education that includes teaching students about using contraception and therefore protecting themselves against AIDS/HIV.
-Some conservatives might be of the opinion that there is something shameful about a person having AIDS/HIV and so people with those illnesses might feel uanble to get treatment because of the way they fear people will respond to them.

Just some ideas.
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