CHPIR Director Releases Second Edition of Book on HIV in the South

Whetten Releases Second Edition of Book on HIV in the South

The second edition of “‘You’re the First One I’ve Told’: The New Faces of HIV in the South” by authors Kathryn Whetten and Brian Pence, which is now available for order, provides new details on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the South while bringing to life the stories and voices of people infected with the disease.

As HIV is explained within the context of individuals’ life histories, beliefs, attitudes and current life situations, the book’s latest edition incorporates new HIV research that gets to a deeper issue. In a recent Duke study, Whetten and Pence found that many people living with HIV in the South have experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, family violence, early loss or other traumatic experiences. Those who experienced more traumatic events in their lifetime tended to have worse overall physical health and cognitive functioning.

“We found that HIV was simply one more event in a long history of traumatic life experiences,” write the authors in the book. “We believe it is critical to develop HIV medical care models that acknowledge, ask about, and respond to patients’ life histories in order to best promote patients’ health.”

The most Southern states of the U.S., including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and east Texas, accounted for 36 percent of new AIDS diagnoses in 2009, while only containing 22 percent of the US population. Many of the underlying reasons for the spread of the disease in the region have yet to be been addressed by policy makers. Those issues include ignorance about HIV, reluctance to get tested, non-adherence to treatment protocols, and resistance to behavioral changes.

“The South has been the epicenter of the U.S. HIV epidemic for the last decade, and the authors have used a balanced set of information from both surveys and personal observations to present a poignant and accessible portrait of the complexities of human health and disease,” John Bartlett, professor of medicine and global health at the Duke Global Health Institute.

“Expertly linking patients’ pasts to their current struggles to obtain health care and support, the stories related here contextualize AIDS within the lived experiences of the poor and marginalized communities that bear the greatest burden of HIV in the American South,” said Paul Farmer, professor at Harvard University, and board member at the Duke Global Health Institute. “This book offers indispensable insight into the ways that large-scale social forces shape the lives of those facing AIDS.”
The book was first published in 2002.

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