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HIV Testing Saves Lives

By Daniel Cherry | Published 27 Jun 2012 05:34pm | comments
The death rate of those diagnosed with AIDS in Mississippi is more than 60% higher than the national average. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how those fighting the spread of the disease say increased testing could save hundreds of lives.
 
Mississippi has the 6th highest rate of new HIV infections. Tarra Cousins with Building Bridges, an organization providing free testing in Hinds County says the death rate of those infected is needlessly high.
 
"You can do two things: You can accept your status and live or you can deny it and decide to die. There's no reason for people to die suddenly now. There are so many services for people living with HIV."
 
Today's medications can keep a person living with HIV from ever developing AIDS, significantly increasing their chances of living a long life. But if the virus goes undiagnosed...it's basically a death sentence. That's why Jeremy Coleman came out to get tested.
 
"Speaking from an African American standpoint and being a male as well, I think all males, all African Americans, and not just a race thing, but everybody should know their status if they're out being sexually active. "
 
African Americans make up about 40% of Mississippi's population, yet account for nearly 80 percent of new HIV infections. Dr. Warren Jones works to end health disparities among minorities in Mississippi.
 
"In the African American community the problem is very real for men having sex with men and heterosexual females. If the men that are engaged with heterosexual females don't get tested, they continue to infect them."
 
Yesterday was the 17th Annual National HIV Testing Day, but in Mississippi there are dozens of locations across the state offering free and confidential HIV testing every day.

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