I’m on the road again this week, this time at the National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) in Atlanta. The updates so far have me thinking about the need for an Enduro America, which would be a long, awareness-raising motorcycle ride through the rural Southeast, heading north along the coast and through many of the 20% of counties that account for 80% of the cases of AIDS.
Why would such a thing be needed? Here are some facts about HIV in the U.S.:
- An estimated 56,000 people contract HIV in the U.S. every year.
- Over 1 million people in the US are living with the virus that causes AIDS.
- Many Americans remain at risk for HIV, especially Latinos, African Americans, and gay and bisexual men of all ethnicities.
- Approximately 20% of persons with HIV don’t know it and they transmit the virus at much higher rates than those with diagnosed HIV infection.
Worse, as the CDC’s Kevin Fenton notes,
studies show that the level of concern about HIV in America has declined, and some of the populations at highest risk do not recognize their risk or simply believe HIV is no longer a serious health threat.
An awareness-raising motorcycle trek through the U.S. might also help convince the Obama administration to make good on its plans for a national HIV prevention strategy, similar to the sort required of all recipients of President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds, and to put the necessary resources into effect.
In the meantime, here’s a map of the U.S. counties with the highest AIDS prevalence that can inform a route for a future Enduro America:
View Enduro America -- route map in a larger map