The Mississippi Center for Justice and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) announce a medical-legal partnership to provide free civil legal services to people living with HIV/AIDS. The collaboration—which includes a joint agreement with the Center, UMMC, the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Crossroads Clinics Central and the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation—marks the first-ever medical-legal partnership in the state of Mississippi.
Mississippi Center for Justice staff attorney Alecia Reed- Owens will provide on-site legal assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS at the Crossroads Clinics Central. The legal assistance will focus primarily on HIV-status-related discrimination in housing and employment. Reed-Owens is available at the clinic in the Jackson Medical Mall every Tuesday and via phone Monday through Friday at (769) 230-2840.
The partnership’s services are sorely needed in the state:
- The city of Jackson has the fourth highest HIV infection rate of all U.S. metropolitan areas that report HIV infection information, according to the Center for Disease Control.
- The African-American community in Mississippi is disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. A recent study by the Mississippi State Department of Health found that African Americans represent 38 percent of the population, but account for 78 percent of new infections.
- Mississippi ranks 49th in funding civil legal services, according to a report by the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission.
According to the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership, the medical-legal partnership is a healthcare delivery model that improves the health and well-being of low-income and other vulnerable populations by addressing unmet legal needs and removing legal barriers that impede health. Across the nation, there are 97 medical-legal partnerships serving 54,000 patients a year at more than 275 healthcare institutions.