When the HIV epidemic began in the U.S. in 1981, the cases appeared mainly in major coastal cities, like New York and San Francisco, among gay and bisexual men and injecting drug users. And interactive maps showing current HIV cases from AIDSvu at Emory University shows the geographic path of how the disease expanded through the U.S.:
Cases are still concentrated in population centers, so Los Angeles, for example, has a high rate of HIV infections even though the Southwest appears to have had less impact than other regions. And as NPR points out, one of the reddest sections of the map — showing the highest rate of adults living with HIV — stretches through the Southeast:
The Southeast has been hard hit by HIV, with infections concentrated along the I-95 corridor from Washington to Florida, and in the Mississippi Delta. Eight of the 10 U.S. states with the highest rates of new HIV infection are located here. High rates of poverty factor in as well, as does the region’s low ranking on many basic health measures. Nearly 50 percent of newly diagnosed U.S. AIDS cases each year are reported in the South.