JACKSON, Miss (WJTV) — The state of Mississippi has been ranked number one state in the nation to have the most sexually transmitted diseases, according to backgroundchecks.org.

April is STI Awareness Month, where an opportunity is given to raise awareness about STDs, as well as the impact of STDs on lives across the nation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 20 million new STD cases in the U.S. every year, resulting in $16 billion worth of medical costs. The state of Mississippi has 1,958 STD cases per 100,000, which is about 48,548 total cases. Mississippi also ranks first for states with the most gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis cases.  

On average, cases in Mississippi have increased 8.32% every year since 2015. The state sees an average of 41,488 cases each year.

Charles Czarnecki, representative for BackgroundChecks.org, reported that in order to decrease the growth of percentages, patients must get tested regularly, especially when there is a new partner involved in the relationship.

“When it comes to STDs, there are several things that you can do to take prevention,” he explained. “We want to be sure that everyone is aware that there is a way to stay safe to prevent but also to stay healthy if contracted.”

Czarnecki said it’s vital to get tested for syphilis once every year. He also shared that patients should get tested when getting a new partner every three months.

“If you are pregnant, you should be tested early in the pregnancy,” said Czarneki. “The ways to prevent these diseases is to mostly get tested and have safe sex by wearing condoms and reducing sex partners.”

STI Awareness Week is Sunday through April 15.