World AIDS Day Shines Lights on HIV Epidemic in Charleston

DHEC urges testing on World AIDS Day (Image 1)

CHARLESTON (WCBD) – While the HIV epidemic may seem like something that happens in other places, the numbers show HIV is very much an epidemic hitting the Lowcountry. On World AIDS Day, the Charleston community can come together to recognize what is happening locally and join forces to support HIV education and prevention here and around the state.

The Charleston Area World AIDS Day committee is hosting a World AIDS Day vigil at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the Unitarian Church, 4 Archdale St. in downtown Charleston. The evening’s program will be a mixture of remembrance and a celebration of life plus speakers and performances – all with the hope of sparking a dialogue about rising HIV rates facing Charleston.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Charleston/North Charleston metropolitan area ranks 31st among all U.S. metropolitan areas for the highest rate of new HIV infections in 2013 (HIV Surveillance Report). This year Lowcountry AIDS Services is reporting a higher number of those testing positive for HIV.

The Charleston Characters Dance Co. and Grace Metropolitan AME Gospel Choir will perform along with spoken word poet Ron’Rico Judon. Leaders in the HIV medical community, Lowcountry AIDS Services and local supporters also will be in attendance.

“HIV not only changes the lives of those infected, but it changes the lives of their families, friends and the whole community,” said Topher Larkin, Charleston World AIDS Day chairman. “It is critical we stand together to continue to support HIV prevention efforts, to educate South Carolinians about HIV/AIDS, encourage testing, stop stigma and support individuals and organizations that are fighting to stop of the spread of HIV.”

Lowcountry AIDS Services is partnering with Walgreens to provide free HIV testing on World AIDS Day. Testing will be done 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 1 at Walgreens, 1861 Remount Road in North Charleston.

Lowcountry AIDS Services is also encouraging the Charleston community to “see red” on World AIDS Day.

Post a photo/selfie wearing red (clothing, red ribbon or a LAS awareness band) and use hashtags: #red4LAS, #SeeingRED, #KnowNowKnowHow, #WorldAIDSDay, #LowcountryAIDS; and tag Lowcountry AIDS Services on Facebook or on Twitter/Instagram @LowcountryAIDS. For more details on the #SeeingRED social media campaign, visit http://bit.ly/1HYPUmX.

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