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African American Women in Mississippi are 11 times More Likely to be Diagnosed with HIV

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 12 Feb 2013 05:50pm | comments
Free condoms are available at AIDS service organizations like Building Bridges in Jackson. Tuesday, February 12, 2013.

African American women in Mississippi are nearly eleven times more likely than white women to be newly diagnosed with HIV. That's according to a report released by the Mississippi Department of Health.  MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports how women can protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease.

A 48 year old Jackson woman who wishes to go only by Patsy was diagnosed with HIV nearly 23 years ago. She say while there is no way she can be absolutely sure how she contracted the disease she highly suspects it was from her lover of 9 years. 

"  So after he passed away that led me to believe that he knew that he had been infected and for how long I don't know. For what I understand I do he could have been down low but I know he was a very promiscuous man. And I don't feel like it's his fought and I don't feel like it's my fought. I think we should have been more understanding and more talkative to each other."   

According to the Mississippi Department of Health African Americans are more likely than whites to be in situations where their partners HIV status is unknown or undisclosed.”

That's why Terra Cousins, program manager with Building Bridges, an AIDS service organization in Jackson is stressing the importance of open communications.

"So I guess as a black woman you trust that your partner is who he says that he is. But at the same time you do have some women who are not in committed relationships, never talking about using condoms or never talking about HIV testing and I'm just at a point now where you have to take some responsibility for yourself."

It's been 20 years since 55 year old Thomascene Washington was diagnosed with HIV. That's why the Jackson native  is now a strong advocate for women.

"If you care about this person tell them and yall talk about it. And you give me a chance to decide If I wanna be with you or you wanna be with me. And we'll make sure that we're using protection and not getting re-infected or infecting other people,"

 

Of the nearly ten thousand Mississippian's living with HIV/AIDS more than 4 thousand are women.  Free HIV  testing is available at  local health departments across the state.  Lawayne Childrey MPB News.

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Free condoms are available at AIDS service organizations like Building Bridges in Jackson. Tuesday, February 12, 2013.


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