HIV cases in Mississippi are among the highest in the nation. President Trump said during his State of the Union address he wants to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the United States within the next 10 years. MPB's Jasmine Ellis reports on how the crisis is affecting Mississippi.
Jacqueline Wilson of Jackson was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2006. She says it's hard living with HIV and dealing with people's opinions.
“That’s just a part of being HIV positive,” said Wilson. “You have to be strong in order to endure the pain, the frustration, the confusion. There’s a lot that comes with being HIV positive.”
Jacqueline is one of about 10,000 people in Mississippi living with HIV.
Dr. James Brock is with the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says it is possible to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. this century.
“The cornerstones of ending the epidemic include screening everybody,” said Brock. “For those that are HIV positive they should be on treatment. For those that are screened and are HIV negative and felt to be high-risk they can take PrEP which is a medication that’s used to prevent HIV transmission to the negative person.”
Deja Abdul-Haqq is with the non-profit, My Brother's Keeper. The organization is dedicated to reducing health disparities in Mississippi. She says the stereotypes associated with HIV are untrue.
“All of the stereotypes that it’s a gay disease that’s not true,” said Abdul-Haqq. “HIV is a problem for people that have multiple sex partners that’s not true. None of the myths are true. The only thing that is true about HIV is the facts. It’s transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk.”
Dr. Brock says one of the biggest barriers to ending HIV and AIDS is the way the healthcare system is structured.