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Facts & Figures: Chronic Disease in Rural America

Remote Chance: Health Care in Rural Americaa, a digital-first series of short films by award-winning filmmaker Elizabeth Arledge, made possible by

Chronic Disease Is a Leading Causes of Death in Rural America

People who live in rural areas of the United States are more likely than urban residents to die prematurely from the five leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. And with all-cause mortality rates higher in rural areas, it is no surprise that mortality related to specific causes is also higher.

High Incidence of New HIV Diagnoses, Especially in the South

In the decades since the first AIDS cases were reported in Los Angeles and New York City in 1981, the epicenter of the nation’s HIV epidemic has shifted from urban centers to the 16 states and District of Columbia that make up the South.

The South now experiences the greatest burden of HIV and deaths of any U.S. region and lacks quality HIV prevention services and care. Closing these gaps is essential to the health of people in the region and our nation’s long-term success in ending the HIV epidemic.

Mortality Rates in the Rural South

The Rural South leads in mortality rates for nearly all top-ten causes of death examined by the Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center (RHRPRC). The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) U.S. Health Map provides data on life expectancy at birth for both sexes in 2014, illustrating a lower life expectancy in the South.

Rural populations in the Southeastern portion of the U.S. also exhibit a diabetes prevalence rate higher than 10.6%. In some areas of the South, the diabetes prevalence rates for adults are almost double the national rate for adults.

About the Series

Remote Chance: Health Care in Rural America is a series leading to the upcoming 2023 documentary Critical Condition: Health Care in Rural America (WT), a production of Gurney Street Films and WETA Washington, D.C. Produced, directed and written by Elizabeth Arledge.

Support for Remote Chance: Health Care in Rural America provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Related Series & Films is a mental health resource, not a crisis or suicide response website. If you are in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of suicide, please text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.