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HIV/AIDS in Rural Communities

While higher rates of HIV cases continue to be centered in large metropolitan areas, research published by the American Psychological Association has shown that rural communities in some areas of the country have HIV prevalence rates that are nearing rates of more populated urban centers.

Recently, an outbreak of new HIV cases in a rural town in Indiana made national headlines, highlighting the importance of implementing targeted programs in rural communities to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. As of February 2016, this small town of 4,000 people had nearly 200 new HIV diagnoses. Adding to the impact of the HIV outbreak, more than 80% of the cases are co-infected with the hepatitis C virus. The Indiana State Department of Health linked this outbreak to injection drug use of opioids, highlighting another significant problem in rural America.

In addition to the outbreak in rural Indiana, several rural communities in Southern states have seen notable increase in new infections since 2008. These Southern states have large rural regions and face unique challenges to HIV prevention and treatment. In recent years, nearly 50 percent of all new HIV infections have occurred in the Southern portion of the U.S., with close to 40 percent of new cases in nine Southern states. A Journal of Community Health article focusing on the nine Southern states with the highest HIV incidence rates found that these states have a higher rate of new cases concentrated in rural portions of the state compared to the U.S. overall.

The increasing impact of HIV/AIDS in rural communities highlights the need for an increased focus on the use of evidence-based models and programs. However, rural residents face unique barriers and challenges to accessing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services.

Resources to Learn More

HIV/AIDS in Rural America: Prevalence and Service Availability
This article provides background on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in rural America and the availability of HIV/AIDS services in rural communities. In particular, the article looks at the rural versus urban distribution of Ryan White providers and shows how services are distributed throughout the country to meet the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS.
Organization(s): South Carolina Rural Research Center
Date: 1/2013

New Strategies for Rural Care
This report discusses major barriers to accessing HIV care in rural areas and presents strategies for attaining entry and retention in HIV care, as well as addressing challenges posed by stigma, lack of transportation, and substance abuse.
Organizations(s): HIV/AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration
Date: 4/2009

Understanding Health Care Needs of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Rural Communities
This article discusses the scope of healthcare needs for persons living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities and describes the differences seen in rural communities. The article also discusses resource and access barriers to care, implications for service gaps, as well as goals put forth in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
Organization(s): American Psychological Association
Citation: Psychology and AIDS Exchange Newsletter
Date: 1/2015