This new, interactive heat map illustrates HIV's impact on New Orleans

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The Centers for Disease Control issued its first report of AIDS 35 years ago this month, and Monday, June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. In response and to remind people that HIV is still an important issue, AIDSvu released a new, interactive heat map today. Users can search by zip code and see data for different demographics, including race, gender, income and age. Check out the map here, or read on for a Q&A with Dr. Patrick Sullivan, lead researcher at AIDSvu and Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University.

What is this map telling us about HIV and AIDS in New Orleans?
[HIV] has a disproportionate impact on black Americans. Seventy-six percent of people newly diagnosed with HIV between 2010 and 2014 were men and 24 percent were women. Seventy-one percent of people newly diagnosed were black, 6 percent Hispanic/Latino, and 21 percent white. Also, there are areas within the city that have quite high proportions of people living with HIV, and we map that out by zip code to show where those impacted [areas] are.

What's causing the Southern AIDS epidemic?
One factor is poverty. There's a higher percentage of people in the South living in poverty. But poverty speaks to access to health care, preventative services and HIV testing as part of medical care. The map highlights that many of the most impacted states don't have current plans for Medicaid expansion. That is an aspect to the issue. Increasing access to healthcare has downstream benefits for communities with people living with HIV.

What can we do to reduce the number of new HIV and AIDS cases in the South?
We hope when people become aware of how heavily impacted the South and Louisiana are by the epidemic, they will want to take a step to learn their own HIV status. We want to promote HIV testing and get people linked into effective care. When people living with HIV are treated with these new medications and their viral load is suppressed, it reduces the chance they will pass HIV to others. The epidemic in the South needs to be about all phases of these steps.

Click here to find a local HIV testing site.


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