10 Cities With The Highest HIV Rates (2018)

Around 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States of America (USA). Nearly one in seven of these people are unaware they have HIV.

The size of the HIV epidemic is relatively small compared to the country’s population, but is heavily concentrated among several key affected populations. Around 70% of annual new HIV infections occur among gay and other men who have sex with men (sometimes referred to as MSM), among whom African American/black men are most affected, followed by Latino/Hispanic men. Heterosexual African American/black women and transgender women of all ethnicities are also disproportionately affected.

The USA is the greatest funder of the global response to HIV, but also has an ongoing HIV epidemic itself, with around 37,600 new infections a year. HIV affects locations differently as well, so we’ve compiled the cities with highest rates in the nation.

10. Baltimore, Maryland – 24.3
According to GetTested.com, HIV infection rates in Baltimore are on the rise due to a lack of education. HIV is a lifelong infection that, if left untreated, can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), according to AIDS.gov. AIDS occurs when a person’s immune system becomes damaged, and people who are diagnosed with AIDS typically survive about three years.

9. Jacksonville, Florida – 25.1
Although Jacksonville isn’t thought of as a “party city” like other destinations on GetTested.com’s list, the site suggests that, “The number of business people and tourists who travel to Jacksonville,” might contribute to the high rates of HIV diagnoses and prevalence there. Forty-four percent of people diagnosed with HIV live in the South, even though the region only contains about a third of the U.S. population. Aside from Baltimore, all of the cities on GetTested.com’s list are in the South.

(Photo credit: avert.gov)

8. Columbia, South Carolina – 25.6
South Carolina’s Channel 10 WISTV.com reports that poverty, rural geography, lack of affordable healthcare and social stigma all contribute to the prevalence of HIV in the South. “Researchers say being a part of the ‘Bible Belt’ adds to the stigma,” they report, meaning that in some cases, a diagnosed person might not seek treatment due to fear of rejection from the religious community. Careteam+, a South Carolina non-profit healthcare provider, tells WISTV.com that they’ve lately been able to refer 500 percent more patients to specialized care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. With antiretroviral therapy, someone who is HIV-positive can keep the illness under control and reduce their risk of infecting others.

7. Atlanta, Georgia – 25.9
Moving down the list from number 4 last year to number seven this year, more than 1,000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year in Atlanta. What’s even more interesting is that 50 percent of those people aren’t diagnosed until they already have AIDS. Within the first two to four weeks of infection, some people experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, rash, night sweats and fatigue, according to AIDS.gov. Others don’t show any symptoms at all, and about one in eight Americans with HIV don’t know that they have it. The only way to know if you have AIDS is to get tested. There are tons of places you can go to do this, including Planned Parenthood, medical clinics, hospitals and substance-abuse treatment programs. Check out the related link below to find a testing center in your area. Testing early might result in a false-negative, so be sure to tell your testing site if you think you’ve been infected recently.