Yesterday was ‘National HIV Testing Day’, and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reminding 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.
Recent statistics show that Mississippi has the eighth highest HIV diagnosis rate in the U.S. Additionally, African Americans account for 73 percent of the newly diagnosed cases with African American men specifically accounting for 58 percent of those cases.
“HIV is treatable, but early diagnosis is the key. Once you know your HIV status, effective HIV treatments are available that reduce transmission and allow for a long, healthy life, like with any chronic disease,” said Dr. Paul Byers, 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 Byers.
In Mississippi, an estimated 10,000 people are living with HIV, with many more who are unaware of their infection.
The burden of HIV is disproportionately high for men who have sex with men in Mississippi, and young adults aged 20-29 represented the leading age group (40 percent) of newly diagnosed cases in 2018.
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 and injection drug users) be tested more often.
Confidential, private HIV testing is available 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 email and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.