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Mississippi Department of Health to Recognize World Aids Day December 1
Over 8,500 People Living with HIV in Mississippi

From: MDH        Filed 11/29/06 GCN

Friday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, and the Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) encourages all Mississippians to educate themselves about this serious disease.

AIDS  is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which attacks the body’s immune system, leaving its host open to infection. HIV disease (HIV infection or have developed an AIDS-defining illness) is spread through contact with body fluids, typically through sexual contact. Once infected, the symptoms can sometimes take years to manifest themselves.

There are over 8,500 men, women and children living with HIV disease in Mississippi and over a million people in the United States.  There are more who are infected but do not know it.  The CDC encourages everybody who is sexually active to make HIV testing a part of their routine health care.

There is no cure for HIV disease, but people can protect themselves from HIV disease by practicing the ABC method: Abstinence from sex outside of marriage or a committed relationship, Being faithful to one’s spouse or partner, and consistent and correct use of Condoms in all sexual activity. Of these three precautions, abstinence is the only guaranteed protection from HIV.

MDH offers free, confidential HIV testing at all of its local health departments, and the agency’s health educators work around the state to inform the public about the disease: how it is acquired, its effects, and what can be done to control the disease in their communities.

Additionally, Mississippi, like many states, operates an AIDS Drug Assistance Program that is able to assist limited income individuals in getting the medicines they need.

To learn more about preventing HIV disease, or to be tested for the disease, contact your local health department clinic, or call the MDH toll-free AIDS hotline: 1-800-826-2961.

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