DHEC Offers Free HIV/STD Testing on Feb. 7 for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS nationally and in South Carolina
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Feb. 6, 2023
COLUMBIA, S.C. ― In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is offering free testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at several public health departments on Tuesday, Feb. 7. DHEC encourages South Carolinians to take advantage of this free testing in order to know your health status when it comes to STDs.
African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS nationally and in South Carolina. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is recognized on Feb. 7, aims to increase HIV awareness and testing in Black communities.
“In 2019, African Americans accounted for 66 percent of the total number of people living with HIV in South Carolina even though they make up only 27 percent of the state’s population,” said Ali Mansaray, DHEC’s director for the Division of STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis. “This national observance day is an opportunity to reduce HIV stigma and lessen the HIV burden in black communities through education and testing.”
Between 2019 and 2020, 1,495 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in South Carolina, and of those newly diagnosed, 62 percent were African American, 24 percent were white, and 7 percent were Hispanic.
Much like new HIV infections, African Americans are disproportionately impacted when it comes to the total number of people living with HIV in South Carolina. As of Dec. 31, 2020, among people living with HIV in South Carolina, 47 percent were African American men, 22 percent were African American women, 21 percent were white men and 5 percent were white women. Six percent of people living with HIV were Hispanic/Latino men and women.
In addition to recognizing National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and offering free testing, DHEC’s efforts to reduce the impact of HIV and STDS on Black communities include:
- Supporting community-based HIV prevention services that specifically target African American men with funding, education, training and outreach activities.
- Offering HIV self-tests so residents can test in the comfort of their homes, thus reducing stigma they may experience with going to a clinic for HIV testing.
- Providing an enhanced discharge planning program with the South Carolina Department of Corrections to reduce recidivism for African Americans and others living with HIV.
- Implementation of a successful program to re-engage African Americans living with HIV and who are not in a system of care to remain connected to HIV treatment and care services.
To schedule an appointment for free HIV/STD testing on Feb. 7, call DHEC's AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437), or visit DHEC's service locator at www.scdhec.gov/HIVLocator. During the testing, you will be screened for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis and trichomoniasis. Results will be available within five to seven business days.
While Feb. 7 is an opportunity for free testing, DHEC encourages people who may be at risk of exposure to HIV and other STDs to routinely get tested so they can benefit from readily available prevention and treatment for these infections. DHEC health departments offer this routine testing daily. To make an appointment, call 855-472-3432 or schedule online using Web Chat.
Visit DHEC’s website for more information on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.