Mississippians are more at risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections according to reports from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. MPB's Alexis Ware reports on racial disparities in STIs.
Despite similar sexual behavior, nationwide African Americans are seven times more likely to contract HIV than their white counterparts and account for 50 percent of those with HIV.
On Friday Brown University Public Health Professor Amy Nunn spoke at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
She says lower access to healthcare and insurance is one reason black people are more at risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections.
"It's much easier to get services if you're insured and so a lot of Mississippi has relatively low rates of insurance in African Americans are particularly disproportionately impacted and also it's hard to get Medicaid services in the state of Mississippi."
The Mississippi State Department of Health says in 2012 the rate for Mississippians with cervical cancer was higher than the national rate with African American women being affected at an even higher rate.
Nunn says some people may decline testing out of fear or lack of concern. She says, however receiving regular screening for infections can help limit spreading STIs.
"If you don't know that you're infected because you haven't been screened or because you might be uninsured, you're much less likely to change your behaviors. So, you could unknowingly transmit HIV to other people, and that's a huge challenge in Mississippi as well."
Nunn says once diagnosed treatment could also help in preventing further spread. A medicine commonly called Prep could help in preventing contracting HIV for those who are more at risk. April is STI Awareness Month