STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

CDC director praises Alabama HIV clinic ahead of campaign

The director of the Centers for Disease Control on Friday applauded an Alabama HIV clinic's commitment to providing health services to rural communities.

Posted: Jun 14, 2019 4:58 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — As the federal government prepares to launch an ambitious initiative to end the HIV epidemic, the director of the Centers for Disease Control on Friday applauded an Alabama HIV clinic's commitment to providing health services to rural communities.

Director Robert Redfield met with state public health officials and toured the Medical Advocacy & Outreach clinic in Montgomery to begin laying the groundwork for the decade-long federal campaign. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Alabama is one of seven states the federal government is planning to target with additional expertise, resources and technology for its relatively high rate of new HIV infections among residents in rural areas.

The initiative — first announced by President Trump in his State of the Union address in February — aims to reduce new HIV infections by 75% in five years and at least 90% in 10 years.

The South accounted for more than half of the nearly 40,000 new HIV diagnoses in 2017, with 23% of new diagnoses occurring in suburban and rural areas, a disproportionately high distribution compared to the rest of the U.S., according to data from the CDC.

Redfield said targeting the epidemic in rural areas is particularly difficult because of both the limited access to health services and the increased stigma associated with homosexuality and HIV/AIDS as an illness.

"The true enemy of public health is stigma," Redfield said after a meeting with state lawmakers, public health officials and physicians. "In rural America, stigma is an even greater issue."

Redfield said the federal initiative, which has yet to be allocated funding, will focus on improving diagnoses, getting people into treatment, implementing prevention strategies, working with health departments on identifying hot spots and helping local communities develop a workforce to engage individuals living with HIV.

Scott Harris, Alabama's state health officer, said the initiative will rely on conversations with local health-care providers to help design the kind of unique programs that will be most effective there.

"We have an opportunity to use people at the local level to help us understand exactly what's going on in these particular communities," Harris said.

Redfield, who began researching the virus more than 30 years ago, got a first-hand look at how Medical Advocacy & Outreach targets rural communities during a walk-through of the facility that included a brief presentation on the clinic's telemedicine program, a video chat setup between a doctor and a patient described by some staff as the "crown jewel" of the clinic.

On a flat-screen TV situated at the front of a small room in the Montgomery clinic, Redfield greeted a nurse located in one of the organization's ten satellite clinics. He then put on a pair of Bluetooth headphones which allows physicians to remotely hear the hearts, lungs or bowels of a patient via a digital stethoscope dozens of miles away.

Thomas Stephens, a spokesman for the clinic, said he hoped the visit gave Redfield a "personal," ''human" perspective on the kind of on-the-ground programs aimed at stemming HIV/AIDS in rural Alabama.

"We want to suppress viral loads. We don't want to suppress self-esteem," said Jamil Dawson, MAO's director of support services, to Redfield during his tour.

"I think I'm going to steal that," Redfield said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6979155
DeSoto542555
Harrison374372
Jackson339967
Madison321286
Rankin319375
Lee261067
Jones242778
Forrest239570
Washington218171
Lafayette209239
Lauderdale2007124
Bolivar179565
Oktibbeha175450
Lamar163534
Neshoba1540103
Panola144527
Sunflower142144
Lowndes140357
Warren138150
Leflore137080
Pontotoc123616
Pike121348
Monroe118965
Scott116425
Copiah116333
Coahoma112827
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106853
Grenada106235
Yazoo103929
Simpson101443
Union97824
Tate95537
Leake94037
Adams92136
Wayne87721
Pearl River86750
Marion84133
Prentiss81517
Covington80922
Alcorn77511
Itawamba77021
Newton75923
Tallahatchie75718
George75113
Winston72519
Tishomingo66137
Chickasaw65624
Tippah64516
Attala64125
Walthall59425
Clay58117
Hancock56421
Jasper55515
Noxubee54315
Clarke53739
Smith52414
Calhoun50612
Tunica48113
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41814
Perry40918
Quitman3755
Humphreys37315
Stone35711
Greene34617
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32811
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2439
Benton2201
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Columbus
Few Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Starkville
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather