A Mississippian with HIV/AIDS is almost twice as likely to die from the virus than the average American, and if you are an HIV-positive African-American in the state, the chances of dying are 10 times greater than a white resident.
An article on Salon.com charges that Mississippi not only has the highest new infection rate and greatest percentage of people living with HIV in the country, but also the least interest in helping them, particularly due to racist and homophobic attitudes. Representing only 37.5% of the population, African Americans make up 78% of new HIV infections in Mississippi. Out of a $4.9 million budget, the state only contributes $750,000 to HIV/AIDS programs and an abstinence-education statute bans any programs offering information about condoms to demonstrate how to use them. A lack of anti-discrimination laws also leaves infected individuals vulnerable to discriminatory employment and housing practices.
Advocates are hopeful that the state’s new STD/HIV director, Nicholas Mosca will bring about the necessary change to turn Mississippi’s HIV/AIDS statistics around, but what can a public health advocate do to change the bigoted attitudes underlying the lack of care for these patients?
Are you shocked at the HIV death rate among African Americans in Mississippi? What do you think the state can do to turn this issue around?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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