CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says they’ll be sponsoring a free testing event at local health departments Tuesday.
They say clients can be tested for HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis C at no cost.
DHEC says they’re offering this in observance of World AIDS Day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an estimated 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV, then ensuring they receive prompt and ongoing care and treatment.
They say early detection through testing is essential to successfully identifying and treating the disease, and helping to end the epidemic.
The latest data shows there are more than 20,000 South Carolina residents living with a diagnosed HIV infection, including AIDS.
Health officials say it’s estimated 16% of these people living with HIV do not know their status, meaning that they will continue progressing to AIDS and pose an infection risk to their loved ones and communities.
“Every county in the state has residents living with HIV, but many South Carolinians remain unaware of their HIV status because they have not received an HIV test,” says Ali Mansaray, Director of DHEC’s STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division.
In 2019, South Carolina was selected by the federal government as one of seven priority states to be part of the new national strategy to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030.
Also on Tuesday, DHEC and Ending the Epidemics SC are scheduled to hold a World AIDS Day panel on Facebook Live.
They say it’ll feature information from HIV prevention agencies and people living with HIV.
They’re inviting students, legislature representatives, healthcare workers, people living with HIV, the media, faith-based communities, and everyone across the state to participate.
For more information about World AIDS Day and local HIV testing sites, you can call DHEC’s S.C. AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437) or visit their website.