A Dallas-based group is bringing its message of awareness to Jackson this weekend. Members of Condom Nation said they are on a mission to save lives, one condom at a time, especially in the Jackson area, which has a high number of AIDS cases, plus the highest number of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases in the country.
“A condom truck is across the street from my house, a big 18-wheeler condom truck,” said resident Camella Walker.
Condom Nation’s driver, Hector Alcantara, gets a lot of comments when he’s traveling across the country in a truck that he said could be considered a little more eye-catching than others on the road.
“We get people who are like, ‘You know what, that’s the biggest condom I’ve ever seen. That is amazing,'” Alcantara said.
While the truck may be good for a few laughs, organizers it’s on a serious mission, targeting Jackson for a reason.
“Recently, the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released that the Jackson metropolitan areas had the third-highest cases of AIDS in the United States,” said Terra Cousins, of Building Bridges Organization.
While working toward its goal of handing out 10 million condoms across the country, organizers said Condom Nation is also screening people for HIV and AIDS.
“One out of five people don’t know that they are infected,” Cousins said.
Dr. Leandro Mena, associate professor of medicine in Infectious Diseases at University of Mississippi Medical Center, said HIV is not a death sentence when it is caught early.
“People with the infection can now live very healthy and productive lives,” Mena said.
If more people learn their diagnosis, experts said that could help Jackson fall in the HIV-AIDS rankings.
“Someone who knows they are HIV infected is much less likely to infect other individuals,” Mena said.
Condom Nation stopped at Jackson State, Stewpot and Tougaloo College on Friday. Organizers said they will be at Battlefield Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.