According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.1 million people in the United States now live with HIV, with 56,000 more infected each year -- a number about 40 percent higher than previously estimated. Some 20 percent of people with HIV -- 220,000 individuals -- do not know they are infected and are thought to be responsible for up to 70 percent of new infections.
In a way, the new level of reporting on HIV incidence is simply catching up with monitoring routinely done for other diseases.
"We have been mapping chronic disease now for about three to four years. We've mapped diabetes to the zip code level, cardiovascular disease and end-stage renal [kidney] disease," Puckrein noted. "After the CDC announced that everyone should know their HIV status in their guidelines, we thought that communities also needed to know their status."
TheAtlas draws on 2005-07 data from health departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and New York City. It found that, of 3,027 counties that provided data for the report, 556 counties bear the lion's share of the nation's HIV/AIDS burden.
Furthermore, the epidemic has hit hardest in the two-thirds of the 556 counties that are predominantly minority populations, including blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders.
A random sampling of the 20 percent of counties with the highest HIV rates include: Marin and San Francisco counties, Calif; Miami-Dade county, Fla; Bronx, Queens and New York (Manhattan) counties, New York City; Richland (Columbia), S.C.; Orleans (New Orleans), La; Butts, Clayton and Dekalb counties (Atlanta), Ga; New Haven and Hartford counties, Conn; Multnomah (Portland) Ore; and Denver (Denver) Colo.
In New York City, data on HIV prevalence has now been pinpointed to the zip-code level, although other locales we
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