HIV rates re-surging in the Capital City and across the south
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In recent years, Jackson’s HIV rate dropped from the fourth highest in the country to seventh, according to the CDC. But those efforts to stop the spread were hampered by COVID. With the Capital City again among the highest in the nation, the medical community says this re-surging epidemic must be addressed.
“It’s got to be all boots on the ground again,” said My Brother’s Keeper Chief Operating Officer Dr. Mauda Monger.
The 20-year HIV researcher reminds Mississippians that HIV is still out there and numbers are rising. Efforts that reduced cases prior to 2019 were stalled during COVID.
“Infectious disease providers who have generally been the boots on the ground for HIV were snatched,” said Monger. “They were pulled. So I can’t focus on HIV right now. Everybody’s focus was COVID.”
The Jackson native said during clinic closures, PPE and medical supply shortages, HIV testings and diagnosis dropped, resulting in now epidemic levels.
“Research has told us that when people are in a state of anxiety or depression they want to connect to other people right, and if I don’t have to tools to connect safely it doesn’t stop me from connecting,” said Monger. “So I’m still going to connect and generally that may end in a sexual connection.”
The public health professional recommends HIV testing as a part of annual medical exams. Medications are currently available to prevent acquiring HIV. Condom use is also recommended.
“Imagine if we had the same response around HIV that we did COVID,” added Monger. “We could eradicate, we could end the epidemic in the State of Mississippi and beyond.”
The Open Arms Healthcare Center located at 805 E. Rive Place in Jackson offers testing and personalized programs at no cost.
For more information call 601-500-7660 or go to www.oahcc.org.
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