North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan met with lawmakers in Washington D.C. Tuesday to discuss how to deal with the spread of HIV in the South.
Nearly half of all new infections of HIV in the nation are in the South, according to federal estimates. Roughly half of all new HIV infections were in nine Southern states -- including the Carolinas -- even though the region only accounts for about 25 percent of the U.S. population.
The State Department of Health and Human Services estimates that in 2010, about 35,000 people in North Carolina were HIV positive. About 4,500 of those cases were in Mecklenburg County.
"This is a trend that has been going on for some time," Dr. William Harley said.
He blames poverty, funding and cultural issues in the South for the spread of the disease.
Many, including the founder of the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network, believe not enough is being done to tackle the issue.
"The South is underfunded across the board in prevention programs, care programs, outreach and testing," the Rev. Debbie Warren said.