JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi has experienced some of the highest cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the United Stations.

HIV is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by attacking cells that fight off infection. The virus can be transmitted blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.

Typical symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, mouth ulcers, muscle aches, rash, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes.

In recent years, Mississippi has been ranked the fourth highest state in the country to have a surging HIV rate. According to several statistics, the state has decreased those numbers and is now the seventh highest state when it comes to HIV cases.

According to AIDS United, nearly 10,000 people are living with HIV in the state of Mississippi.

Local residents shared their thoughts about HIV in the metro area.

“HIV is something extremely important that I don’t believe we as people take too serious,” said Hailey Donaldson, a local resident. “I believe in getting check just as much as I would at a regular doctor’s appointment others should do the same.”

“I think a lot of people need to be more educated on HIV. For example, many may not know its not just about sex,” said Ronald Garyson, a local resident. “This is our health we’re talking about.”

For more information on HIV and local testing sites, click here.