The Centers for Disease Control released a map that shows where it rates of the “most distinctive” cause of death in each state – and Florida leads the nation in deaths from HIV.
The "most distinctive" cause of death in each state means where a particular cause of death is the highest. The CDC explains that many states' most distinctive cause could be explained by factors unique to that state. For example, people in cold, northern states die of the flu more than others, and those in coal-mining states get lung diseases at a higher rate. But there's no geographic or economic reason for why Florida has the most HIV deaths. Still, Florida is definitely high on the HIV list.
Between 2001 and 2010, the CDC says, there were 15,000 deaths from HIV in the United States. In another CDC study, out of 49,081 new cases of HIV in 2011, 5,394 — more than 10 percent — were from Florida.
With 10 percent of new cases that year happening in Florida, it's not hard to believe that three Florida cities made the top 15 in 2011 when it comes to number of people with HIV. Miami is at the top of the list, with Jacksonville and Orlando at the tenth and 11th spots, respectively.
In the South, HIV is rising rapidly compared to others regions, especially places like New York and San Francisco, where HIV was once an epidemic but has since fallen dramatically. Scientific American cites poverty, lack of health care, and cultural and religious attitudes against homosexuality as the reasons HIV gets untreated and then spreads.
Although the HIV situation in Florida is pretty dire, the Sunshine State isn't alone on the "most distinctive" death list. Washington, D.C., also has HIV as its leading cause of death compared to the national average.
And in what some might consider a blow against Florida stereotypes, Florida doesn't lead the nation in gun deaths. That title belongs to Arizona and Arkansas. According to the Center for American Progress, 3,303 people were murdered with a gun in Arizona between 2001 and 2010 — almost double the number of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan. Arkansas is even worse, with 4,291 gun deaths during that same time. That's 50 percent higher than the national average and more than the 3,480 U.S. military combat deaths in Iraq.
But that's not to say Florida is gun-shy. We just have a better average based on the population size. Here, 20,651 people were killed by guns in the Sunshine state between 2001 and 2010, which is almost four times the number of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
As for other problems related to STIs, New York is leading the nation in deaths from Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is when bacteria from the vagina infects the womb, ovaries, or fallopian tubes. And Louisiana is tops when it comes to syphilis.