Most in Mississippi With HIV Lack Treatment

End AIDS in MS!

Nearly two-thirds of people in Mississippi with HIV are without treatment, as reported by the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, MS. This news comes just one week after AIDS Issues reported on the threat to Health Department funding in Mississippi in the upcoming budget proposal.

The news report cited the stigma of having HIV in the state drives many people from even seeking treatment. Issues of transportation to health facilities in the mostly rural state presents a challenge also. But much of the responsibility lies in a state government that spends next to nothing on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, and has made it very hard for people to get Medicaid.

"Mississippi is one of the few, and maybe only states that requires an in-person appointment to renew your Medicaid," said Luke O. Versher, Field Organizer of AIDS Action Mississippi. "Many people don't have the transportation, miss their appointments, and that's how they keep enrollment down."

But even when people who HIV come forward and access treatment, they may be closely monitored by the state Health Department and threatened with disclosing their status to loved ones, which could cause many from seeking treatment. In this video produced by Human Rights Watch, Mississippi resident Sandra Stringfellow discusses the threats made to her and her family by Department of Health officials.

Mississippi has about 9,500 people living with HIV in the state, and the rate of deaths due to AIDS related illness in the state is 60% higher than the national average.

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