Associated Press - January 31, 2012
JACKSON -- More than two-thirds of the Mississippi residents who
test positive for the AIDS virus don't get medical treatment,
state health officials say.
Those people not only shorten their own lives but increase the
risk of spreading the virus, State health officer Mary Currier
told The Clarion-Ledger.
Statewide, more than 9,500 Mississippi residents are known to
have human immunodeficiency virus. Nearly one-quarter of them are
in Hinds County.
Reasons people with HIV don't get the care they need include
cost, fear that others would look down on them, lack of access to
doctors, and denial, since many people with HIV feel relatively
well for years, doctors said.
"Some people in the Delta drive here to Jackson because they
don't want the stigma," said Valencia Robinson, executive
director for Mississippi in Action and an advocate for those
living with HIV.
Besides not wanting others to know they're infected, people with
HIV sometimes deny it to themselves, said Dr. Leandro Mena,
associate professor of medicine for the Division of Infectious
Diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
"People feel relatively well for many years," he said, so they
don't take the drugs that can stave off AIDS and let them live
relatively normal lives.
Without reliable public transportation, he said, many patients
rely on getting rides to appointments, and don't want to tell
it's for HIV.
The daily medication also makes it hard to hide the disease, he
said. "If you have to hide your medicine, you may forget to take