JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – According to the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Union County leads the United States in deaths due to cancers, HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
The average life expectancy in Union County is 67.5 years. Compare that to the national average of more than 78 and a half years. Only one county in the country has a lower life expectancy for males than Union County's 64.2 years.
Union County also ranks next-to-last in the nation in male deaths by cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases mortality. Only eight counties have higher obesity rates among men.
An official at the county health department said the lack of funding keeps it from offering people services they need.
Union County has the second highest smoking rate in Florida at nearly 21 percent. Twenty percent of the county lives in poverty.
There are also only three main employers, the school system, the prison and a local sawmill.
Another thing to keep in mind when looking at the data, a third of the county's population are inmates at the state prison, so that may skew the numbers a bit. Many prisoners with cancer are transferred to Union County.
And inmates have a higher rate of HIV and hepatitis than the overall population.