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Mississippi's African Americans more vulnerable

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JACKSON, Ms., (KNOE 8 News) - According to the most recent data released from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), Mississippi's African Americans remain most likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection.

In 2011, Mississippi's African American women were nearly eleven times more likely than white women and nearly twice as likely as Hispanic women to be newly diagnosed with HIV. African American men were seven times more likely than white men and three times more likely than Hispanic men to be newly diagnosed.

According to Dr. Nicholas Mosca, director of the MSDH Office of STD/HIV, this suggests that African Americans are more likely to be in a situation where HIV status is unknown or undisclosed.

"Those who have sex outside of a long-term mutually monogamous relationship shouldn't ‘guess' a partner's status or rely on their honesty," said Mosca. "Casual sex always requires the correct and consistent use of condoms and routine HIV testing after each sexual encounter to determine exposure to HIV infection."

MSDH encourages people diagnosed with HIV infection to seek treatment to improve their well-being and quality of life, even if they have no symptoms. The agency offers fast, free and confidential HIV testing at all of its county health departments, and some resources are available to assist infected individuals in getting the medications that they need.

In addition to its own programs, MSDH partners with immunity-based organizations, some hospital emergency departments, mental health facilities, and alcohol and drug treatment centers to increase access to testing and link those who are HIV positive to care and treatment.

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