Forrest County near top in HIV cases

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FORREST COUNTY, MS – According to a 2013 study by the Mississippi Department of Health, Forrest County is ranked number 3 in the state among new HIV infections. Also, Mississippi reported 556 cases of HIV infection.

It’s an epidemic that’s hitting the Pine Belt. Knowing your status can help prevent the spread.

“You want an early diagnosis. If you have the disease it’s very important to get tested early so you can begin treatment early as well,” Dr. Anita Davis Boykins of The University of Southern of Mississippi School of Nursing advised.

National HIV Testing Day is Saturday, June 27th, 2015.

AIDS Services Coalition of Hattiesburg is taking advantage of the day and hosting a free event for the community to get tested for HIV.

The event is 11 – 3 p.m. at First Tee Community Center.

“You need to know your status. It’s 1 in 6 people living with it and may not even know it, so we’re trying to get as many people out as possible,” Andrew Bates with AIDS Services Coalition said.

According to doctors, it’s important to know your status because HIV doesn’t only affect your physical health. It affects your psychiatric health as well.

“Depression, anxiety, they also as they get into the later stages of the disease they can cognitive problems such as dementia as well,” Boykins said.”

AIDS Services Coalition says taking advantage of National HIV Testing Awareness Day is a healthy measure that will go a long way.

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