Increasing reported cases of STDs and HIV in Colombus, a city located in the Lowndes County of have raised alarm among health officials in Mississippi. A slight decrease in the number of HIV cases in the Lowndes County has done little to calm fears over an epidemic that threatens to become worse, if stringent measures are not taken.
The year 2018 recorded 130 cases of HIV at an incidence rate of 262 per 100000, a slight drop from the 150 cases recorded in 2016. Teenagers in Columbus and Lowndes County at large are the most affected with Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis having a higher infection rate than that of the country.
According to 2015 statistics from the Mississippi Department of Health, Chlamydia had a 530.9 infection rate in Lowndes compared to the country’s 478.8 infection rate. Gonorrhea and Syphilis had 206.0 and 6.7 infection rates respectively compared to the country’s average of 123.9 and 7.6 per 100000 residents.
“A Rise in STD infections is a clear warning of a growing menace. They are a persistent enemy growing in number and outdoing our ability to respond” Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
In its fight against STD and HIV, Lowndes County Department of Health urges all sexually active people to visit their nearest STD testing centers and get to know their status. Colombus offers plenty of options, both public and private facilities where anyone can get tested.
Public facilities may offer free STD testing though it might be dependent on income and welfare eligibility. Some of the facilities include Mississippi State Department of Health Lowndes County Health Department and Mississippi State Department of Health Clay County Health Department which offer various STD tests at low cost or no pay.