By MIKE STOBBE
AP Medical Writer
ATLANTA (AP) - A new Internet data map offers a first-of-its-kind, county-level look at HIV cases in the U.S. and finds the infection rates tend to be highest in the South.
The highest numbers of HIV cases are in population centers like New York and California. However, many of the areas with the highest rates of HIV _ that is, the highest proportion of people with the AIDS-causing virus _ are in the South, according to the data map, which has information for more than 90 percent of the nation's counties and Washington, D.C.
HIV infection rates are higher in African-American communities, and high minority populations in the South help explain the finding. While that's not surprising, the high rates seen throughout states like Georgia and South Carolina were, said Gary Puckrein, president of the National Minority Quality Forum, the nonprofit research organization that put the map together.
Of 48 counties with the highest prevalence rates for HIV that had not yet progressed to AIDS, 25 were in Georgia, according to the map. Those were counties in which more than 0.7 percent of the population was infected with HIV.