JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Three sexually transmitted diseases are at all time high nationwide: syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
That’s according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Mississippi has the highest cases of gonorrhea and the third highest of chlamydia and syphilis.
STDs are part of the hush-hush conversations in many parts of Mississippi.
“Anything that has anything to do with sex is associated with stigma," explained My Brother’s Keeper and Open Arms Healthcare Deja Abdul-Haqq. "But unfortunately the data shows that stigmatizing it doesn’t make it go away.”
Abdul-Haqq says it’s a stigma that’s got to change.
“I don’t think we need to wait on the nation to come up with a national solution," said Abdul-Haqq. "I believe in the state of Mississippi we have a situation that’s of epidemic proportion.”
Access is a complicating factor when it comes down to preventive testing and treatment that could follow. Most clinics don’t offer a free screening for all STDs, but Open Arms Healthcare Center in Jackson is now offering a free option.
“If we’re living in an area where these types of rates are becoming the norm, we have to change the norms with standard of care," Abdul-Haqq noted. "So, the ‘Becoming a Healthier U’ program is changing the norm and creating an answer or solution.”
They encourage those who are sexually active to get tested every six months. As far as treatment if you test positive?
“Chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea are treatable with antibiotics and penicillin," she added. "And that’s the saving grace. It’s not something you have to live with. But HIV is transmitted the same way those STIs are and, right now, there is no cure.”
But even before that, Abdul-Haqq believes the state should have a better sex education standard and teach young people early about the importance of protected sex.