The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) joins health providers, caregivers and all those whose lives have been affected by HIV in recognizing December 1st as Annual World AIDS Day.
World AIDS Day is set aside to remember lives lost to this terrible disease and reflect on ways to help eliminate the epidemic.
In 2010, there were 550 new reports of HIV infection in Mississippi. Among gay men and other men who have sex with men, the rates are proportionately higher. Among male HIV cases where a risk factor was identified, 91% of men reported having sex with men. The burden of the HIV epidemic is also profoundly disparate for men of color: In 2010, African American men had incidence rates four times higher than white males.
One way to prevent the transmission of HIV is to identify and treat those who have other STDs. STDs can weaken the immune system and cause open wounds that can make it easier to contract HIV. Moreover, a recent study shows that HIV medications are not as effective in controlling HIV in patients with underlying STDs. In recent years, Mississippi has experienced the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea compared to other states, and some of the highest rates nationally for syphilis.
HIV is treatable, but early diagnosis is the key. Effective HIV treatments are available that reduce transmission and allow for a long, healthy life. Sexually active individuals should get tested for HIV and STDs at least every six months. Sexually active individuals are also encouraged to be faithful to their partners, use condoms correctly and consistently, and talk with a physician about their sexual behavior. Free, confidential testing for HIV and other STDs is also available at any county health department.. Remember, the most common symptom of an STD and HIV is no symptom.
For more information about HIV testing, prevention and treatment, contact the MSDH Bureau of HIV/STD at (601) 576-7723 or 1 (866) 458-4948.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.
Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
Note to media: After hours or during emergencies, call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948)