Alabama, The United States of America
Alabama, a largely rural state, is in poor shape — literally. Its population of about 4,900,000, 68.4% white and 26.5% black, has a poverty rate of 17% (sixth highest in the US, and far above the national rate).
With poverty and racism it has huge health problems. All important STDs are highest among blacks and Hispanics.
14,653 persons were known to have HIV in 2018, 657 newly diagnosed — 13.4 per 100,000, but 36.7 per 100,000 for blacks. These are undercounts. Alabama provided medication for only 1,156 of them. Within the black community 51% of newly Hiv infections occur among men who have sex with men (MSM). Stigma against LGBTQ persons generally is high. Many of these individuals do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual.Young black males 15 to 29 years old have been identified as a high-risk group. Black females are approximately 9 times more likely to become infected with HIV than white females. The state began a social media campaign to raise HIV awareness and lower stigma which appears to have died in 2017. Public education in Alabama is poor.
Being a leader
Theresa says it clearly: “If you have HIV in Alabama, life can be tough. There is a lot of stigma and ignorance. Sometimes you are really stared at when you go shopping.” When, as a mother of two adult children, she became ill and was told that she was HIV positive, she was shocked. How would her children and her friends react!? Would anyone ever want a relationship with her?
God gives her the confidence that she will not remain alone and her children are simply fantastic. They support her with everything. Now she likes to pass that support onto others.
Photo’s by Vincent van den Hoogen