The Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2006, Mississippi ranked first in the country in the rate of gonorrhea cases and second for chlamydia. Some locals reacted to that with disbelief.
"Real shocked. I didn't even know it was something like that out here like that," said Meridian resident, Chris Jackson.
Physicians say gonorrhea and chlamydia, also known as "the drip" or "clap", are the two most common types of sexually-transmitted diseases, or STDs.
Health officials say most people who have them don't know in the beginning because symptoms may not appear for months, especially in women.
Symptoms include painful urination, discharge and/or itch.
"We do see it quite often," said Dr. Benny L. Wright, OB-GYN at Greater Meridian Health Clinic. "We diagnose one or two cases every week."
Dr. Wright, along with Dr. Mark Stanley of Riley Hospital's E.R., say this is
not a new situation, because Mississippi has been in the top 10 consistently for the last decade in the incidence of various types of STDs.
Doctors say they believe the numbers occur because the culture has a higher degree of acceptance of teenage sex and multiple sexual partners.
"But the problem is, that you have to remember if you have relations with somebody you're exposing yourself to their entire medical history," said Dr. Stanley. "If somebody in their past had something and you are unaware that they are a carrier then even though you are in a monogamous relationship you can still get a disease."
Physicians advise teenagers that the best protection is abstinence. After that, they say limiting sexual partners and using barrier contraceptives are the next best protection.
Even if you use condoms, they say it's still possible to catch STDs. Doctors recommend regular STD screenings for anyone who is sexually active.