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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2017

National STD Awareness Month
DHEC offers free testing on April 27th

COLUMBIA, S.C. - April is National STD Awareness Month and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging everyone to proactively prevent the spread of STDs and get screened.

This year for STD Awareness Month, our goal is to highlight syphilis awareness and testing.  If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health issues, such as effects on the central nervous and vascular systems, birth defects, and blindness.  There is a treatment for syphilis, but the only way syphilis can be detected is by getting tested. 

"In the most recent CDC rankings for state STD rates, among all of the states, South Carolina ranked fourth for gonorrhea, seventh for chlamydia, and 16th for all stages of syphilis combined," said Ali Mansaray, director of the agency's STD/HIV Division.

Studies show that people who have STDs such as gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis are more likely to get HIV compared to people who are STD-free. The same behaviors that increase the risk for acquiring these STDs also increase the risk of getting HIV. If left untreated, STDs can have severe health consequences for the person with it and to babies born to an infected mother. STD and HIV testing is a critical step in preventing the spread of disease.

Certain areas of South Carolina have particularly high STD rates. In the Midlands region, there has been an alarming increase in the number of syphilis cases. In 2015 Richland County had more than 57% of the state's total syphilis cases. A similar surge has occurred in other counties in South Carolina.

DHEC urges those at risk for any STD to talk with their healthcare professional about getting tested or call your local public health clinic for an appointment. DHEC's public health clinics will be offering free testing on April 27th.  For more information about STDs and sites that provide screenings, call DHEC's AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437), or visit DHEC's website at http://www.scdhec.gov/stdhiv

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
(803) 898-7769