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Date of publication: 2017-07-09 02:29

Although not an advocacy organisation, NORAPC is working for Medicaid expansion to ensure access to care, mandatory comprehensive sex education, decriminalising HIV and increasing the availability of affordable housing. ‘Reducing stigma is embedded with each of those,’ Bowen said. New Orleans is home to at least 68 separate organisations dedicated to addressing the HIV epidemic.

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Teena Davison, a cook in Tallulah, is raising four children on her own. One father is in Texas the other is nearby but disengaged. “Sometimes they help out but basically I do it all,” she says. She gave up trying to make either man do his share. “I don’t want to go through it because they constantly lie, you know, tell the kids I’m going to get you this and never get it.” So, she says, “I don’t even bother with them [or] make a big fuss about it.”

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When men with jobs are in short supply, as they are in poor neighbourhoods throughout the rich world, any presentable male can get sex, but few women will trust him to stick around or behave decently. Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, two sociologists, asked a sample of inner-city women of all races why they broke up with their most recent partner. Four in ten blamed his chronic, flagrant infidelity half complained that he was violent.

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If you offer a man counselling, he may refuse. The very notion is unmanly, some feel, though it is often quite effective. Still, there are ways to lure men into talking about their feelings. John Errington, a former lorry driver, organises a “men’s shed” in Wingate, a former mining village near Hartlepool. It is literally a shed, with a darts board and a hob for making tea. Local men meet there and do constructive things, such as plant vegetables or do odd jobs. At the same time, they socialise. Some have lost jobs or wives others just want something to do. At least one volunteer is trained in spotting the warning signs of depression or suicide.

In the 85 years since the first cases were reported in the US, HIV – transmitted predominantly through unprotected sex and sharing needles – has become a disease that thrives on poverty, sexual stigma and racial inequality. For this reason, the geography of the disease has shifted from urban coastal regions to the southern states: where those problems are most prevalent, so is the virus.

In reality, only about a third of HIV-positive people reach that point. Dery pauses the slide show on a bar graph that explains why. Of all the people infected with HIV, only 87 per cent are diagnosed. Fewer are linked to medical care, still fewer stay in care, and even fewer reach the crucial point of viral suppression.

If the sort of labour that a man like Mr Redden might willingly perform with diligence and pride is no longer in great demand, that does not mean there are no jobs at all. Everywhere you look in Tallulah there are women working: in the motels that cater to passing truckers, in the restaurants that serve all-you-can-eat catfish buffets, in shops, clinics and local government offices. But though unskilled men might do some of those jobs, they are unlikely to want them or to be picked for them.

And don’t tell me that raising the minimum wage to $65 an hour solves the problem. No one can doubt the moral significance of the movement. But at this rate of pay, you pass the official poverty line only after working 79 hours a week. The current federal minimum wage is $. Working a 95-hour week, you would have to make $65 an hour to reach the official poverty line. What, exactly, is the point of earning a paycheck that isn’t a living wage, except to prove that you have a work ethic?

Of course, you will say along with every economist from Dean Baker to Greg Mankiw, Left to Right – that raising taxes on corporate income is a disincentive to investment and thus job creation. Or that it will drive corporations overseas, where taxes are lower.

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