amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Poll: Which region of the U.S. has the largest number of people living with AIDS? [June 2008]


The Southern region of the U.S. is disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic, reporting the largest estimated number of persons living with AIDS and more new AIDS cases than any other region of the country, according to the 2006 HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 17,000 cases of AIDS were reported in the South in 2006, well ahead of the Northeast (9,486), the West (6,074), and the Midwest (4,164).

Poll region
Poll closed June 15, 2008.
AIDS prevalence in the U.S. increased steadily between 2002 and 2006, and today, an estimated 436,693 persons in the 50 states and the District of Columbia are living with AIDS. Of those, 41 percent—approximately 177,000 people—reside in the South, 29 percent in the Northeast, 20 percent in the West, and 11 percent in the Midwest.

Southern metropolitan areas reported a considerable number of new AIDS cases in 2006. According to CDC estimates, Miami reported more than 2,000 new cases, Washington, D.C., more than 1,600, and Atlanta and Houston more than 1,000 each.

Sociocultural factors such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status contribute to the high numbers of AIDS cases in the South. Studies indicate that many Southerners lack HIV education, access to testing, prevention, and healthcare. And the epidemic has disproportionately affected African-American communities in the region. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 58 percent of newly reported AIDS cases among blacks in 2006 occurred in the South, although blacks represent only about 19 percent of the South’s population.

The South is now home to the highest concentration of AIDS cases among women in the country; out of the 10 states with the highest case rates among women, seven are in the South. Recent evidence also suggests that new cases of AIDS among African-American women in the South are increasing.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report: Cases of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas. 2006; 18.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, 50 State Comparisons. March 2008.