Overall transmission of HIV continues to decline in the U.S., but new interactive maps and data released Wednesday reveal disparities in infection rates in the country.

"Where you live really matters when it comes to how heavily your community is impacted and your risk for infection," lead researcher Patrick Sullivan from Emory University told Axios. Sullivan and his team created the maps using federal, state and local data that show patterns of HIV transmission pinpointed to a specific area.

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Note: Values for many counties are omitted from the data to protect privacy in places with small populations. Data: AIDSVu; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Key findings:

  • While the southern U.S. only hosts 37% of the population, in 2015 these states accounted for 52% of all new HIV diagnoses and for 49% of all deaths among people with HIV.
  • The 5 cities with the highest rates of new diagnoses are all in the South: Miami, Jackson, New Orleans, Atlanta and Baton Rouge.
  • African Americans account for 45% of all new transmissions of HIV despite making up 12% of the population.
  • New diagnoses among youth aged 13 to 24 rose by 2% between 2014 and 2015.
  • Opioid abuse and intravenous drug use are expected to boost the rate of HIV infection unless preventative steps are taken.

CDC statistics: In 2015, 39,513 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in the U.S. Because HIV testing has remained stable or increased in recent years, the 18% overall decrease in diagnoses from 2008 and 2015 "suggests a true decline in new infections." However, the CDC said progress has been uneven and Sullivan said he agreed that there are disparities in the infection rates.

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