No Free STD Tests in Mississippi
Health has become a big talking point in America since the new administration came in. And, it seems that these issues are trickling down from the federal to the state.
Specifically, in the state of Mississippi, the news has broken out that tests for STDs will no longer be free but cost $25.
The decision by the State Department of Health was made in order to help with a new round of budget cuts. Experts say, however, that the lasting effects will show that the change isn’t worth it.
In fact, before this was announced it was found that there is a high increase of STDs in the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that there is a 283% increase in syphilis diagnoses in the past four years.
Adding to that, this could be a terrible risk for gay men and for the fight against HIV in the state.
The state of Mississippi has the highest rate of men infected with the disease. A recent Emory University study found that 40% of men living in the state capital who have/had sex with other men have been infected with HIV. And those are only the men who have gone to get testing and know their diagnosis.
You see, getting a diagnosis is key. In fact, the CDC states that anyone from the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once.
The state of Mississippi however has decided to add a $25 charge on any testing for the virus, which could lead to creating a lack of accessibility for some of the citizens. There is also a risk of making it easier for the disease to spread.
People who do not know that they have HIV and go undiagnosed can easily spread the virus. But, with treatment there is a lowered risk of transmitting it.
Deja Abdul-Haqq, an activist and member of the HIV prevention group NGO My Brother’s Keeper, spoke to Clarion-Ledger and said:
“It’s not one or two people, it’s families, it’s whole communities.
“This epidemic in Mississippi, especially in Jackson, is so concentrated that there’s no way for you to misinterpret this.
“When four in 10 gay and bisexual men are HIV positive, when we are third in the nation for chlamydia, fifth in the nation for gonorrhea and 12th in the nation for syphilis, when syphilis rates have practically tripled, it’s not just an epidemic, it’s an epidemic on fire and your solution is to take away the small cup of water that we actually have to help.”