In 2011, the state Legislature passed a new law on sex education that mandating school districts to adopt a sex education curriculum, either abstinence-only or abstinence-plus. This new law also stipulated requirements for all school districts to follow that girls and boys are to be separated for sex education classes and that a parental release form, a signed permission slip, was required for students to participate in sex ed classes.
Parts of the law were designed to appease conservatives in this deeply religious state who resist the efforts of those who want to teach about safe sex. In the 2014-15 school year, the Mississippi Department of Education reported that 64 percent of districts chose a middle ground, implemented “Choosing the Best” sex-education curriculum, which is designated as both “abstinence only” and “abstinence plus” depending on how each school district decides to use. In some classes, the only focus about condoms is to highlight their failure rates. The law also requires that students be taught that homosexual activity is illegal in the state.
The state has the second highest teen-birth rates in the country at 38 births per 1,000 girls in 2014. Education programs are a good place to begin bringing that teen birth rate down, but it will take many years. 58 percent of state high school students say they have had sex by the end of 12th grade, the second-highest percentage in the nation. Only 38 percent girls who have a child before age 18 get a high school diploma by age 22. (data from CDC)
Recent research on comprehensive sexuality education has shown that young people who receive complete and accurate information about condoms, abstinence, and contraception were not more likely to be sexually active or be infected by an STD, but were dramatically less likely to be involved in teen pregnancy. They learn that along with regular HIV testing, Herpes testing is very important since viral infections such as Herpes can be transmitted through asymptomatic casual contact with someone that has no visible symptoms.
According to the US Census data, in 2010 the state population was 2,967,697 and it had increased by 4.3% since 2000. The state has the highest percentage of black residents of any state in the U.S., it is 37 percent black, while non-Hispanic whites are 58 percent of the population. The median age is 36 years old, the estimated median household income in 2015 was $39,665 and the poverty rate was 22%. 14.8% of people under 65 do not have health insurance.
The 2012 Mississippi Fact Sheets on STDs report that 15 to 24 year olds account for 67 percent of gonorrhea infections, 76 percent of chlamydia infections and 42 percent of primary and secondary syphilis infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 30.2 percent of people living with HIV in the state are ages 13 to 24, A large factor is the social acceptance of sexual activity combined with alcohol and drugs, which hinders your ability to choose safe sex. The state is ranked in many polls as the most religious state in America, with 59% of Mississippians referring to themselves as very religious.
With a very religious population, a high poverty rate and a low rate of health insurance coverage, the population of the state is at risk for STD infections. Citizens have very few health care options when they feel there is an issue that needs to be dealt. These factors result in high STD rates attributed to a lack of education as well as little funding for programs that offer free assistance.
Mississippi does not get the same attention as some of the southern states, but it has a vibrant culture all its own. The high rate of STDs shows that you need to be aware and tested on a regular basis. You should not worry about passing something on to a partner, or the thoughts of spending hours waiting to be seen at a free STD clinic keep you from STD testing. There is a choice that lets you make an appointment for same day STD testing, avoid the hassles and save precious time. Invest 20 minutes for your health and the health of the ones you love, then get ready for an evening out to enjoy fried green tomatoes and a great blues band.