States in the American South have disproportionately high rates of AIDS-related deaths and diagnoses of people living with HIV compared with the rest of the country. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted an analysis of state-by-state data on the HIV epidemic in 2012, the most recent year for which there is available data, and presented their findings at the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta.

In 2012, the national AIDS-related death rate was 19.2 deaths per 1,000 people living with HIV. The statewide death rates varied widely, from a low of 7.9 deaths per 1,000 people with HIV in Vermont to a high of 30.8 in Louisiana. Of the 10 states that have not yet met the national goal of bringing the death rate down to 21.7 by 2015, seven were in the South.

“It is unacceptable that people with HIV living in many Southern states are more likely to die than those living in other parts of the country,” Jonathan Mermin, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a press release. “Some states are making great strides toward getting people with HIV diagnosed and into care, but every state must do this if we are to reach our national goals for prevention and care.”

On average, an estimated 87 percent of Americans living with HIV knew their serostatus in 2012. The state-level diagnosis rates ranged widely, from a low of 77 percent in Louisiana to a high of 93 percent in both New York and Hawaii. Just five states have reached the national goal of getting 90 percent of HIV-positive Americans aware of their status by 2015: New York, Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware.

To read a CDC press release on the analysis, click here.