"A report from the Southern AIDS Coalition and shared in the New Republic says that nearly 40 percent of HIV diagnoses occur in just nine states located in, you guessed it, the Deep South. That’s extremely disproportionate to the population of the Deep South, which accounts for just 28 percent of the national population. The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS is also the lowest in this area. So what’s going on here? Well, some of the answers won’t surprise you. Conservatives have done a great job at keeping crucial sex education out of schools. In Texas, the state with the third-highest number of HIV infections in the nation, legislators voted to move $3 million out of HIV prevention and into abstinence education.

The Texas House passed an amendment to the budget to do so with 97 in favor and 47 opposed. It was a Republican who spearheaded the idea. It’s also important to remember that in the United States, HIV transmission rates are highest among gay and bisexual males, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and homosexuality is most stigmatized in the Deep South. This stigma keeps people from seeking treatment when diagnosed with HIV. In the south, I can attest, HIV is seen as a dirty thing, associated with sexual immorality and promiscuity. Too, straight men in the south with HIV probably don’t want to be associated with gay people or what has been billed as a “gay disease" " (New Republic, Huffington Post. Southern AIDS Coalition).

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