HIV rates in the South the subject of Dan Rather program


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In this week's Gambit, I look at women's health organization Women with a Vision as it recovers from an arson at its office in Mid-City.

One of Women with a Vision's primary focuses is HIV education and prevention, and its executive director Deon Haywood is a guest at this year's International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (July 22-27). It's the first time since 1990 the conference has been held in the U.S. Haywood will discuss the group's victory against the state's 200-year-old crimes against nature statutes, but Haywood also represents Louisiana and speaks to the international community on behalf of the state's battle with HIV/AIDS.

"My voice will be speaking about the experiences of poor women in the South, and I’ll be doing a satellite presentation to women who are experiencing the same things as we are in the U.S. south. That is big," she says. "The fact the state doesn’t invest any more into HIV prevention says a lot. Yet we rank — Baton Rouge and Louisiana are always in a race now for HIV rates."

Tonight on Dan Rather Reports, the veteran journalist presents "It's a Southern Thing," an in-depth look at the rates of HIV in the South, which continuously rank higher than anywhere else in the country.

More than half of all new HIV cases are in the South, and 53 percent of HIV-related deaths in the U.S. are in southern states — yet there's still little funding and education to combat it.

Also representing Louisiana at the conference is St. John No. 5/Camp ACE, which famously used billboard campaigns ("The HIV Prevention Mafia") to draw attention to HIV and STDs in New Orleans' African-American communities.

Dan Rather Reports: It’s A Southern Thing airs tonight at 7 p.m. on AXS TV.


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