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News Releases

DHEC Spreads Awareness, Offers Free Testing for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

February 7, 2022

COLUMBIA, S.C. ― In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is offering free testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at participating public health departments on Tuesday, Feb. 8. DHEC encourages South Carolinians to take advantage of this free testing opportunity so you 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 aims to increase HIV awareness and testing in Black communities. 

“In 2019, African Americans accounted for 68 percent of the total people living with HIV in South Carolina even though they make up only 27 percent of the state’s population,” said Ali Manasary, 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 2018 and 2019, 1,556 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in South Carolina, and of those newly diagnosed, 60 percent were African American, 22 percent were white, and 6 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, 2019, among persons living with HIV in South Carolina, 47 percent were African American men, 22 percent were African American women, 20 percent were white men and 5 percent were white women. Five percent of people living with HIV were Hispanic/Latino men and women.  

“As stated in South Carolina's Ending the Epidemics Plan, our goal is to reduce new infections by 75 percent in the first five years of the plan,” Mansaray said. “This is aligned with the national Ending the HIV Epidemic plan. To achieve this goal, we are dedicated to eliminating stigma and increasing awareness in South Carolina.”

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 education, trainings and outreach activities.
  • Offering HIV self-tests so residents can test in the comfort of their homes, thus reducing stigma that may exist 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 be relinked into HIV treatment and care services.

To see if your local health department is offering free testing on Feb. 8 and to schedule an appointment, call DHEC's AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437), or visit DHEC's service locator at

Visit DHEC’s website for more information on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.



HIV & STDs Media Relations Statewide