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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2017

DHEC encourages testing on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is conducting free HIV testing and partnering with community-based organizations to sponsor HIV testing events this week in observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7.

"We know that more than 12,600 African-Americans in our state are living with HIV/AIDS," said Linda Bell, MD, state epidemiologist and director of the agency's Bureau of Disease Control. "There are more, however, who have not yet been tested and don't know their HIV status," Dr. Bell added.

"This annual observance gives us the opportunity to highlight the options of community-based HIV testing that we can offer," said Carmen Julious, executive director of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services (PALSS), one of DHEC's HIV prevention partners in the Midlands.

Dr. Bell said various tests will be offered throughout the state in its local health departments and with community agencies, including the traditional blood draw method and the rapid test, which provides preliminary results in less than one hour.

"The annual observance emphasizes the steps that individuals, families, agencies and communities can take together to make the greatest impact and reduce the stigma of testing," Dr. Bell said. "Those steps include learning the facts about HIV, getting tested, becoming involved and helping to link people with HIV to treatment. All of these are ways to make a difference in your community."

For more information about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events, including local HIV testing sites, 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