deepsouth explores the rural American South and the people who inhabit its most distant corners. Beneath layers of history, poverty, and now soaring HIV infections, four Americans redefine traditional Southern values to create their own solutions to survive. Josh, a college student, seeks the support of an underground gay family miles from his suffocating Mississippi Delta hometown. With no funds and few resources, Monica and Tammy tirelessly try to unite reluctant participants at their annual HIV retreat in rural Louisiana. Kathie, an Alabama activist, spends 120 days every year on the road fighting a bureaucracy that continues to ignore the South. Each of these stories shares a particular perspective on life with HIV in a region of the United States often ignored by politicians and the public – a point of view that turns out to be both educational and inspirational.
The South is home to nearly half of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States, and has death rates from AIDS that are much higher than the national average. Human Rights Watch has documented the harmful and misguided laws and policies that in many southern states fuel the epidemic and disproportionately affect African American and Latino communities. Many states cling to ineffective abstinence-only sex education, criminalize HIV exposure, and fail to protect people living with HIV and LGBT individuals from discrimination. Human Rights Watch reports from Mississippi, North Carolina, and other southern states highlight the voices of people living with HIV and their families, and their daily struggle to survive.