HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes February 7 as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness day. In 2017, The Mississippi State Department of Health reported that there were 341 Black/African American cases of HIV in the Magnolia State. The total count for Mississippi in 2017 stood at 428 cases, (White: 71, Hispanic: 12).
In light of the national awareness day, The University of Southern Mississippi held an event sponsored by the Aids Services Coalition with multiple resources to keep students informed about the disease.
We spoke with one sophomore student at USM, Kelsi Ford, who said she chose to be tested for her own verification.
“I am nervous for whatever reason I am,” said Ford. “I am not sexually active, but if i choose to be I will be able to ask someone else for their test result and be able to show mine.”
Kelsi said that if the opportunity to be tested for free inside the Hub on USM’s campus was not avaialble, she would have not been tested.
According to HIV.GOV, More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it. Stephanie Watts with the Aids Services Coalition said that most people only get tested if an incentive is involved. Watts also said that most people are embarrassed to know more about the disease and are shamed to get treatment if they test positive.
To see a full list of STD/HIV Data and Statistics in Mississippi, visit the Mississippi State Department of Health website.
There are other HIV awareness days approaching as well. March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to raise awareness about the need for all women, including pregnant women, to get tested and get treatment if they are living with HIV. March 20 is marked as National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to raise awareness of HIV in Native communities—American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians—to reduce HIV stigma, encourage testing, and encourage treatment for people with HIV.