HIV rates rising in state while advocates observe World AIDS Day - - Jackson, MS

HIV rates rising in state while advocates observe World AIDS Day

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The nation and world stopped in remembrance today of World AIDS Day. For 34 years organizations have globally fought the disease that was once thought a death sentence.  

While medical advances are helping those affected live longer, Mississippi has alarming HIV rates that advocates say is a new battle. 

"It's no longer a death sentence and we're here to live," said Noelle Newsome who is HIV positive.

On World AIDS Day, Newsome helped carry the banner during the Jackson Medical Mall's Annual Richard Polk Christmas Parade.
The 33 year old was diagnosed with HIV at age 13.
"When people do not grasp that type of love at home, they're so eager and quick to get that love out in the streets. Now the question is do the parents out here want the streets raising their children, want the streets loving their children or are they gonna do that for themselves at home," asked Newsome.

The Medical Mall hosted a World AIDS Day Observance and Remembrance Board. The names of those who died of the disease where written by family and friends.

"This was the first person I knew living with HIV," said Newsome, pointing to the name Michael on a remembrance board. "He lived behind me and my parents in south Jackson.

The patient care facilitator honored the life of Michael who died in 1997.

Event coordinator Juanita Davis with CARE4ME Services said advances in HIV medications are extending lives but prevention is key. More than 9,000 Mississippians are living with HIV. Seventy five percent of them are African American men.

"We even have medications like the PREP for instance. A person that's have a partner that's negative and one partner is positive, the negative person can take the medication and will not become infected as long as they adhere to that regimen," said Juanita Davis, program director for CARE4ME Services.

A balloon release followed the day of remembrance, with a stark reminder that despite medical advances, HIV rates are rising at an alarming rate in our state. Mississippi has the highest HIV diagnosis rate in the United States for males 13-24 years old.

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