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The part of the United States with the largest and fastest-growing population of people with HIV/AIDS also has the smallest amount of money to fight it.

The south is home to half of all Americans living with HIV, and accounted for 46.4% of new cases in 2007.

Cultural barriers, however, are keeping patients in the region from proper treatment and financial help. Southern states are failing to apply for federal funds, leaving it (along with the Midwest,) the with the smallest amount of federal funding to fight the disease.

"We are not just fighting HIV, we are fighting a culture," Dr. Michelle Ogle explains to the LA Times. "What is disturbing is that we have women who don't feel comfortable insisting that men use condoms because they are afraid he will leave -- and maybe he is paying some bills. They are victims of poor education, low self-esteem, and they don't feel empowered."



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