What’s the Worst State to Have HIV/AIDS?

I’m not particularly surprised the answer is Mississippi, but some of these details are cringe-worthy and downright revolting. It’s like listening to Bill Dannemeyer say gay people should be sequestered on an island somewhere.

Combine racism and political indifference to poverty with homophobia — there’s been a rapid rise in infections among young men having sex with men in the state — and you’ve got a public health disaster that state politicians mostly ignore, or worse. ”I’ve been called a nigger and a faggot by state legislators right in the Capitol,” Alonzo Dukes, executive director of the Southern AIDS Commission in Greenville, Miss., told Human Rights Watch for a recent report. One of the few advocates for people living with HIV, state Rep. John Hines, says in the same report, “Legislators in Mississippi don’t see it as a public health crisis; they see it as a punishment for an unhealthy lifestyle.” The state contributes only $750,000 towards HIV/AIDS programs, out of a budget of $4.9 billion.

And Mississippi definitely has a significant HIV problem:

The state has the highest new infection rate and greatest percentage of people living with HIV in the country, and by many measures, the least interest in helping them. Elsewhere, HIV/AIDS has become manageable with anti-retroviral therapy, but a Mississippian with HIV/AIDS is almost twice as likely to die than the average American with the virus; HIV-positive African-Americans in Mississippi are ten times as likely to die from it than their white neighbors.

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