Mississippi has one of the highest rates of new HIV infections in the nation...the state also leads the nation in rates of gonorrhea and syphilis infections. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how a national tour is working to combat the spread of STDs in Mississippi.

" /> Condom Nation Tour Hopes to Lower STD Infections in Mississippi | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Condom Nation Tour Hopes to Lower STD Infections in Mississippi

By Daniel Cherry | Published 13 Apr 2012 05:25pm | comments

Mississippi has one of the highest rates of new HIV infections in the nation...the state also leads the nation in rates of gonorrhea and syphilis infections. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how a national tour is working to combat the spread of STDs in Mississippi.

On the campus of Jackson State University, students are passing out thousands of free condoms to their peers. Nicole Lewis is a Political Science major at JSU. Last year, HIV hit home for her when her roommate found out she was positive. That's when Lewis joined a student group called TROOP, which stands for teaching and reaching our own peers.

"From talking to students they really haven't...I know in middle school, elementary, and high (school) we had sexual education. But I came here and everybody is like, 'No I've never gone through that before.' So it's just kind of eye opening to see the opportunities that I've had that I want to give to others."

The effort is part of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Condom Nation Tour. James Vellequette is the Associate Director of the tour. He says a condom costs 4 cents to produce, and if used properly can put a big dent in the spread of STDs in Mississippi.

"The cost of this is that we have these immensely high, just shockingly high rates of STDs here, and we can do something about it with something that costs 4 cents to make, and that's what we're trying to do."

Vellequette says about 70 percent of all new cases of STD infections occur in people ages 15 to 24. That's why they're targeting students like Mike Bembery, a Junior in finance at JSU.

"Especially being at a collegiate setting, you know, you're here to have fun, and everybody is so hyped up about having fun a lot of people forget you have to be safe out here."

The Condom Nation tour hopes to hand out 10 million condoms in 25 states across the country.

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