Policy Spotlight: The HIV Epidemic in the Gulf States

AIDS blood test

HIV/AIDS can rightly be called an epidemic in the Gulf States. According to the CDC, in 2010 Louisiana had the second highest rate of reported HIV infection in the nation. The areas hardest hit (by ranking of AIDS cases per 100,000 people) include Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and Jackson, Mississippi.

Responding to this crisis requires understanding not only how it has arisen—what attitudes and beliefs contribute to risky behavior—but also how best to marshal various federal, state, and community resources.

RAND researchers have examined attitudes, beliefs, and actions of several ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic populations with regard to HIV and AIDS. RAND has also conducted research on responding to and treating the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic. These studies can help Congressional, state, and local policymakers understand how to approach the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS.

See related RAND Blog post

Attitudes and Beliefs About HIV/AIDS

Among racial and ethnic groups, African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV in the United States, according to aids.gov. This population is also highly mistrustful of doctors and may not have access to accurate information before engaging in activities that are more likely to result in infection.

The Role of Faith-Based and Community Organizations

Public health officials have begun to realize the importance of working with community and faith-based organizations when addressing crises such as HIV/AIDS, because of the difficulty reaching those people most at risk. RAND has explored this form of outreach, including the various challenges it can pose.

Treating HIV/AIDS

A great deal of research and funding has focused on expanding HIV/AIDS treatments to underdeveloped countries. At a Congressional hearing in late May 2012, however, the question arose: Why do American patients pay tens of thousands of dollars each year for HIV drugs that cost just hundreds in Africa?

RAND has explored funding and treatment issues worldwide; our research may be equally helpful in the Gulf States.