The CDC's newest HIV Surveillance Report is the first to allow researches to map the HIV infection rate across the whole United States. It was added to the list of characteristics that would be examined in the CDC's report. The report also takes things such as sex, race, age, sexual practices, and drug us (needle use) into account.
The data from this new category shows an interesting trend. It seems that HIV/AIDS infections are highest in the geographical region identified as the South. It's important to not that high infection rates are not limited to the South but are more prevalent there. The CDC reports infection rates (per 100,000 population) of HIV (any stage) in 2011 as "In 2011, rates were 20.9 in the South, 18.1 in the Northeast, 12.0 in the West, and 9.3 in the Midwest."
This is an interesting pattern because the South has very lax sex education laws. In many states sex ed is not required and neither is education on HIV. In schools that offer sex Ed abstinence only policies are often in place and even where there is comprehensive sex education parents have the ability to 'opt out' for their child.
Again it is important to note that these policies are not limited to only The South. In the whole United States only 22 states (plus the District of Columbia) have mandated sex education, however 33 (plus DC) have mandated HIV education. 35 states (plus DC) allow the parents of children to opt-out of a class.
In 2011, researchers at the University of Florida released a study on sex education in the US. This study found that states that had a strong emphasis on abstinence, but light education on other aspects of sex, have a tendency for having higher rate of teen pregnancy and that the states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates were ones that had comprehensive sex and HIV education in addition to teaching abstinence (instead of only abstinence). While correlation is not causation, it is an interesting correlation to note.
To read more on the CDC report and its findings click here and here.
To read the full CDC report click here.
For more on sex education in general click here.