JACKSON, Miss. – Recent statistics show that Mississippi has the ninth highest HIV diagnosis rate in the U.S. Additionally, black men account for 80 percent of the newly diagnosed cases.
Today is National HIV Testing Day, and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reminds Mississippians that getting tested is the first step in preventing the spread of HIV disease. Testing enables individuals with HIV to become aware of their status and get immediate access to medical care and treatment.
“HIV is treatable, but early diagnosis is the key. Effective HIV treatments are available that reduce transmission and allow for a long, healthy life,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, MSDH State Epidemiologist.
“Transmission of HIV is preventable by knowing your status, getting treatment, disclosing your status to all sexual partners, and using condoms correctly and consistently, or abstaining from sex,” said Dobbs.
The Centers for Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States, and one in eight of those are unaware of their infection.
In Mississippi, the burden of HIV is also disproportionately high for men who have sex with men. Among men whose risk factor for HIV is known, the majority reported having male-to-male sexual contact. Young adults aged 20-29 represented the majority (45 percent) of newly diagnosed cases in 2015.
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV as part of routine health care and that people at high risk (such as men who have sex with men, those with multiple sex partners, injection drug users) be tested more often.
HIV testing is free and confidential at all MSDH county health department clinics. To find a testing location near you, text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948) or visit www.HealthyMS.com/locations.
For more information about HIV, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/std.
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)