In the past decade or so the proportion of AIDS cases in the southern states of the U.S. has largely risen or remained unchanged compared with other regions of the country. As this animated cartogram makes clear, the geographic shift to the South (states outlined in black) since 2000 has been subtle but noticeable. It wasn't always this way.

When epidemiologists in 1981 first reported the existence of HIV in the U.S., the infection respected neither race nor socioeconomic class. Even as prevention and treatment options have grown, however, the epidemic has taken a much greater toll on poor people and on black men who have sex with other men. Like cholera, tuberculosis and malaria, HIV has largely become a disease of poverty—even in the richest nations of the world.

For more information on the cultural and political reasons behind the high rate of AIDS in the southern U.S., read Jessica Wapner's report "Poor Man's Burden".

— Christine Gorman

Credit: Graphic by XNR productions; Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV Surveillance Report, vol. 21; 2009