World AIDS Day: Know Status, Fight Stigma
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World AIDS Day Observance Balloon Release, Jackson 2016
Desare Frazier

On this World Aids Day, advocates talk about the stigma of HIV and the need for more access to healthcare. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

The Centers for Disease Control reports in 2015, Jackson was ranked 4th in the nation for the rate of HIV infections. Transmission is highest among black men who have sex with men. Deja Abdul Haqq is with My Brother's Keeper. The non-profit operates a medical clinic that provides care to the LGBT community. She says overcoming the stigma associated with HIV and intravenous drug use is difficult. Some people won't get tested.  

"You and I have to stop stigmatizing addiction. We have to stop stigmatizing HIV. We have to stop stigmatizing all of those conditions that make us feel better when we say oh that's them. Because epidemics don't work like that. Eventually we become the them," said Haqq. 

Haqq says people should know their status and share the information with their partners. She adds using protection during sex is vital in preventing more infections. Jason McCarty is with Mississippi Positive Network, a support group for those who are HIV positive. He says people from all backgrounds, races, gay and straight meet to share and go on outings. He's says transportation is a barrier to many who need medical treatment.

"Not everyone has a car. Not everyone can tell their mother or father or their grandma, or their uncle or their aunt or whomever they live with that they have HIV. So what does that mean they can't get to the clinic. What are they going to say? 'I need to go to the doctor every three months.' "

The Centers for Disease Control reports in 2015, 509 adolescents and adults died in Mississippi from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.