DHEC Offers Free Testing for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
For Immediate Release:
February 3, 2019
Columbia, SC – National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7. In recognition of this day, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will offer free testing at participating DHEC clinics on Thursday, February 6th, and is encouraging all South Carolinians to get tested, know your status, and get treatment.
This year’s theme is “Together for Love: Stop HIV Stigma.”
In conjunction with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, DHEC is also promoting the goal of “Ending the Epidemics” in South Carolina. This new initiative focuses on reducing the number of new cases, linking infected people to care, and increasing the number of people taking medicine to reduce the amount of HIV in their blood.
For residents living with HIV, DHEC urges them to start, return, or continue treatment
to keep the amount of HIV in the blood at a very low level. When a person living with HIV begins treatment, the amount of HIV in their blood can be reduced to such a low amount that it can’t be detected when tested, effectively preventing any risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in South Carolina. They account for 68% of the all residents living with HIV in the state but make up just 27% of its total population.
"An average of 66 cases of HIV infection were reported each month during 2017. We want to decrease that number and prevent the spread of this disease by increasing awareness and treatment,” said Ali Mansaray, director for the division of STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis. “And there are many people who have not yet been tested and don't know their HIV status.”
“This annual observance reminds us of how significantly African American communities are affected by HIV and what can be done to change that. HIV remains a significant cause of illness, disability and death, despite declines in new AIDS cases and deaths,” said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist and director of the agency's Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. "We want residents living with HIV/AIDS to know the facts about HIV, get tested, and seek treatment. These are simple ways to make a difference in your community."
South Carolina HIV/AIDS statistics for 2017-2018
- Of the 20,166 people living with a diagnosis of HIV (including AIDS), 67.8% were African American.
- Among the 1,546 people newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in S.C., 61.6% were African American.
- Among women recently diagnosed, 66.8% were African American.
- Among men recently diagnosed, 60.2% were African American.
- The majority (38.5%) of new HIV/AIDS cases were among people ages 20-29; 21.9% were among people age 30-39; 17.6% were among people age 40-49; and 17.3% were 50 or older. 4% were under the age of 20.
For more information about HIV testing, as well as local HIV testing sites, 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.
Also, visit the DHEC website for more information on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.