A new map of the United States showing HIV rates around the country revealed surprising results: that in Southern cities as many as three out of every ten gay and bisexual men have been diagnosed with HIV.
According to ABC News the new study from researchers at Emory University shows that the south has 21 out of the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest rate of HIV men who have sex with men (MSM). The cities with the highest rates are Columbia, South Carolina, El Paso, Texas, and Jackson, Mississippi.
More than 25% of gay and bisexual men in those cities have been diagnosed with HIV.
“And in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, the rates of diagnosed HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men were nearly twice that of the national rate,” reports PBS.
Gay and bisexual men make up an estimated 4% of the U.S. population, but they accounted for 75% of new HIV infections in 2010 and they are also 57 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than other men in the U.S.
“We hope these data empower local public health officials, community-based organizations, and everyone fighting HIV to bring resources to the gay and bisexual men who need them the most,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin,director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
The largest number of total cases are still in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, but since “federal funding is directed where the disease hits hardest, knowing where HIV is most concentrated may enable public health agencies and local organizations to tweak how they allocate resources at the local level,” reports ABC News.