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The 10 Cities With the Highest HIV Rates

by
author image Hoku Krueger
Hoku Krueger recently graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature Studies and a minor in French Language Studies. During her time there she wrote for the Occidental Weekly and interned with The Maui News.

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The 10 Cities With the Highest HIV Rates
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If you live in the U.S., you have a one in 99 chance of becoming infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). And your risk could be even higher, depending on where you live. However, 2016 saw some major breakthroughs for combating the virus, such as the discovery of an antibody that neutralizes 98 percent of strains. GetTested.com, an at-home STD-testing startup, recently released America’s Riskiest Places for HIV, a map of 10 cities where people have the highest risk of contracting the infection. Their list includes cities that have a population of 50,000 or more, and the rates provided are out of every 100,000 people. Read on to learn whether you or someone you love is at a heightened risk for contracting HIV.

10. Baltimore, Maryland – 24.3
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10 BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – 24.3

According to GetTested.com, HIV infection rates in Baltimore are on the rise due to a lack of education. HIV is a lifelong infection that, if left untreated, can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), according to AIDS.gov. AIDS occurs when a person’s immune system becomes damaged, and people who are diagnosed with AIDS typically survive about three years.

Related: GetTested.com's Map of America's Riskiest Places for HIV

9. Jacksonville, Florida – 25.1
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9 JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – 25.1

Although Jacksonville isn't thought of as a "party city" like other destinations on GetTested.com's list, the site suggests that, "The number of business people and tourists who travel to Jacksonville," might contribute to the high rates of HIV diagnoses and prevalence there. Forty-four percent of people diagnosed with HIV live in the South, even though the region only contains about a third of the U.S. population. Aside from Baltimore, all of the cities on GetTested.com’s list are in the South.

8. Columbia, South Carolina – 25.6
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8 COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – 25.6

South Carolina's Channel 10 WISTV.com reports that poverty, rural geography, lack of affordable healthcare and social stigma all contribute to the prevalence of HIV in the South. "Researchers say being a part of the 'Bible Belt' adds to the stigma," they report, meaning that in some cases, a diagnosed person might not seek treatment due to fear of rejection from the religious community. Careteam+, a South Carolina non-profit healthcare provider, tells WISTV.com that they've lately been able to refer 500 percent more patients to specialized care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. With antiretroviral therapy, someone who is HIV-positive can keep the illness under control and reduce their risk of infecting others.

7. Atlanta, Georgia – 25.9
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7 ATLANTA, GEORGIA – 25.9

According to GetTested.com, more than 1,000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year in Atlanta. What’s more, 50 percent of those people aren’t diagnosed until they already have AIDS. Within the first two to four weeks of infection, some people experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, rash, night sweats and fatigue, according to AIDS.gov. Others don’t show any symptoms at all, and about one in eight Americans with HIV don’t know that they have it. The only way to know if you have AIDS is to get tested. There are tons of places you can go to do this, including Planned Parenthood, medical clinics, hospitals and substance-abuse treatment programs. Check out the related link below to find a testing center in your area. Testing early might result in a false-negative, so be sure to tell your testing site if you think you’ve been infected recently.

Related: HIV Test Locations

6. Memphis, Tennessee – 27.6
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6 MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – 27.6

“A particularly concerning statistic from 2014 shows that about 2,000 people in Memphis who have the disease are not aware of it,” GetTested.com reports. “So they may continue to spread the infection.” African-American gay and bisexual men are most affected by HIV, according to AIDS.gov, followed by white gay and bisexual men. Heterosexual contact accounted for 24 percent of all diagnoses in 2015, and 6 percent of infections were the result of injection drug use.

5. Orlando, Florida – 28.8
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5 ORLANDO, FLORIDA – 28.8

According to the CDC, the rate of HIV diagnoses in Orlando decreased slightly (0.9 percent) from 2013-2015. New HIV infections appear to be declining globally as well. December 1 marked the 28th World AIDS Day, and according to AIDS.gov, "the vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries." Most people in these regions still don’t have access to prevention, treatment and care programs, and only 60 percent of the 36.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS know their status. Since the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief passed in 2003, the U.S. has spent more than $50 billion to test and treat people for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, NPR reports. Other organizations, like U2 frontman Bono's (RED), are targeting mainstream audiences to raise awareness around the issue.

4. Jackson, Mississippi – 32.2
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4 JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – 32.2

GetTested.com reports that in Jackson, there is “a concerted effort to inform the public about the PrEP pill.” Did you know there’s a pill out there that can actually prevent you from becoming infected with HIV even if you have sex with someone who is HIV-positive? Pre-exposure prophylaxis, a daily medication, can do just that, according to WhatisPrEP.org. It’s approved by the FDA, meaning that it’s safe and effective. For more information on the PrEP pill and how to get it, click on the related link below.

Related: More About PrEP

3. New Orleans, Louisiana – 36.9
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3 NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – 36.9

An excess of 19,000 people in Louisiana are living with HIV. More than half of those people have AIDS, according to GetTested.com. Although African-Americans make up only 32 percent of the state population, they represented 73 percent of the state’s new cases in 2011, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. The LDH urges Louisianians to get tested. “If people with HIV have the virus diagnosed early, they are able to receive treatment and care early enough to delay the onset of AIDS,” LDH Office of Publish Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane says in a press release.

2. Miami, Florida – 42.8
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2 MIAMI, FLORIDA – 42.8

In 2015, Miami had the highest rate of HIV diagnoses in the country. It also had the highest prevalence of the disease at the end of 2014, according to the CDC. GetTested.com speculates that the city's high HIV rates may be due to its culture. "It is possible that Miami's HIV rates are so high due to its reputation as a 'party city.'"

Related: More About the CDC's Act Against AIDS

1. Baton Rouge, Louisiana – 44.7
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1 BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – 44.7

Baton Rouge claimed the No. 1 spot on GetTested.com’s list. The company reports that many of the infections there “are due to shared needles, since the city is the center of a massive opiate addiction issue.” The CDC provides a list of steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from HIV. Educate yourself by visiting the CDC website, talk about what you learn with friends and loved ones, and empower people by sharing your knowledge on social media.

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Were you surprised by any of this information? Why do you think HIV rates are still so high in the U.S.? What do you do to protect yourself against HIV? Let us know in the comments section!

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