Communities in Crisis
Many African-Americans, particularly those in poor, rural regions of the South, remain unaware of how HIV is spread and how to protect themselves against the virus, says Marilyn Moering, executive director of the AIDS organization Building Bridges Inc. in Jackson, Miss. 'Lots of people we see,' she says, 'still don't know the basic facts of HIV.' That ignorance is a key factor in HIV's rapid spread among Southern blacks, AIDS experts say. In Mississippi, for example, African-Americans account for 75% of the state's new AIDS cases, despite accounting for just 36% of the state's population in the 2000 U.S. census.