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HIV 'Atlas' Shows Virus Targeting Minorities
Date:6/22/2009

80% of U.S. cases occur in just 20% of counties, report finds

MONDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Your chances of getting infected with HIV may largely depend on where in America you live, a new report finds.

The HIV/AIDS Atlas found that 80 percent of U.S. cases are clustered in 20 percent of counties -- typically comprised heavily of gay, black, Latino and other minority populations.

The new data doesn't mean that anyone should relax their guard in protecting themselves against the AIDS-causing virus, experts said, but it may alert people and policymakers to the level of danger closest to home.

"If we think of the AIDS pandemic as a global wildfire, the way that you fight wildfires is to identify the hot spots," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "The reality right now is that we have not focused on geographies in this country and we know that you can't fight the disease if you don't know who has it. And we know that in every disease early detection is the key."

The report, put together by the National Minority Quality Forum with support from drug company Gilead Sciences, is the first ground-level look at the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

"We wanted to make sure that organizations had the information they needed to organize interventions in their communities, as well as talk intelligently to legislators," Gary Puckrein, president and chief executive officer of the forum, said at a Monday teleconference.

"We also think a lot about policymaking. We're trying to create a more mature conversation in the 21st century of, 'Where are the communities that have the burden?' The question is, do communities have the resources they need? We want to improve the quality of care that patients get but we can also manage health-care resources a lot better" with these facts, he added.

The release of the Atlas also helps sets the s
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