People in need of screenings for HIV will no longer be able to get them for free at the Mississippi State Department of Health. As MPB's Alexis Ware reports, some Mississippians may have to forego the screenings.
Mississippians will now have to pay 25 dollars to receive HIV and other STD tests at the state health department. This while the number of sexually transmitted diseases across the state continue to rise. Reports from the Department of Health say in 2015 more than 500 people were diagnosed with HIV and cases of syphilis have nearly tripled.
Kathy Garner is the Executive Director for the AIDS Services Coalition in Hattiesburg. She says some won't be able to afford the extra expense.
"Many Mississippians 25 dollars makes it virtually impossible for them to get that test because they have to choose between food, or gas or electricity and an HIV test just doesn't fit within that scheme."
In a statement from the Health Department, spokesperson Liz Sharlot says they will continue to provide free STD and HIV testing for people 18 and under and people who are identified as contacts of an STD or HIV. Health Department Clinics will offer a sliding scale and work with people who are unable to pay for the tests.
Deja Abdul-Haqq is with My Brother's Keeper. She says the new fees are putting poor Mississippians at a disadvantage.
"This is not even about compassion, or prevention or science. This is all about money. It's like we're creating this society that's like if you can't afford quuality care, you shouldn't have access to it. And, because Mississippi does have a high rate of poverty it's like you can't help but to assume the assumption is those that don't have won't get."
The changes will go into effect on July 1.