Special Report: Aids in Alabama Part 2

By Valorie Lawson - bio | email

It's estimated...that about 25 percent of the people living in the United States that have no idea they're infected with HIV or AIDS. It's a scary number, especially when you consider that small percentage could lead to more infections and feed a nationwide epidemic.

Along with questions like do you smoke or drink the CDC wants to know how many sexual partners have you had in the last 10 years as part of your physical exam.  It's believed...it could help stop the spread of hiv and aids.

A lot of people are basically waiting for someone to ask"  Dr. Wick Many is with the UAB Health Center in Montgomery.  He says the question is still taboo for some in the medical profession.   "Part of it is, the physician is uncomfortable talking about sexual histories."

There are more people living with hiv and aids than ever before and most of the new cases run straight through the south.  It's no longer a disease that affects the gay community.   The new growing population is African Americans especially women. African American women make up about 19 percent of all reported HIV and AIDS cases in the state.   Michelle Lampkin is living with HIV. "I was told by the nurse that I had HIV aids it was a long slow painful miserable death and I was going to die." But answering a few questions may have saved her live. She knew where, when and from whom she contracted the disease. She was quickly able to get medication. But not everyone is that lucky.

Michael Murphee is with the Montgomery Aids Outreach he says there is a great need in the south.  "In some areas we're almost like a third world country...as far as getting care to our consumers in some rural populations."  Murphee has lobbied Congress to keep money for education and treatment for HIV and Aids in the United States instead of sending it to other countries.  "There are a lot of places in our state where you go down a dirt road and people are living in a bus. For them they are ok to their mind and heart because they don't have any thing else but yet it's not safe and if the they are living with AIDS and HIV it's definitely not safe."

Murphee says there is a waiting list for medications. Most of the patients live below the poverty level and can't afford it. So until their number comes up He says the key is a type of medicine that's free. It's called education. But, he wonders how many will seriously take advantage it. .