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A Look at the HIV/Aids Crisis in Mississippi as Leaders from Around the World Meet in DC

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 23 Jul 2012 04:32pm | comments

Records show that more than a million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. According to the Mississippi Department of Health nearly 10 thousand of those infected live in the Magnolia State. This week at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC world leaders are focused on continuing the fight against the disease. MPB's Lawayne Childrey has more.

For the first time in decades leaders from around the world have assembled in Washington DC to discuss ways to continue fighting HIV/AIDS. Marilyn Moering, Executive Director with Building Bridges, an AIDS service organization in Jackson calls the meeting which consist of more than 20 thousand of the worlds HIV/AIDS experts extremely significant.

" So you're gonna get a chance to see a perspective of people not just from the United States but from people that are dealing this fight  in other countries as well"

The AIDS crisis has hit hard in Mississippi. According to the State Department of Health's Website more than 9 thousand men women and children are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Moering says the only way to  fight the epidemic is to end the stigma associated with it.

"We do live in the bible belt. You're living with HIV automatically people think you did something wrong. So you were a man who had sex with men or you were a drug user and that stigma is so heavy here that people would rather die than let other people know that they have HIV. People don't want to go and get their medications because someone may see them or someone may tell their loved ones that they have HIV."

In 1999 part of that description fit Laurel native Darnell Ferrell to the tee.

"I was initially in and out of care and then there was a period where I just stopped going to the doctor all together."

10 years later his immune system had suffered to the point that Ferrell was diagnosed with AIDS. He says that was his wake-up call.

"To be told that this is real you know that you're like dying and that's when I started complying with prescribed from the doctor."

Experts say everyone can play a part in fighting HIV; Small steps such as encouraging friends and family members to practice safe sex, get tested and seek treatment if test results are positive.   Lawayne Childrey, MPB News. 

 

 

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