DHEC encourages HIV testing in recognition of World AIDS Day 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – World AIDS Day is December 1, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging South Carolinians to get tested, the agency announced today.

“More than 18,300 individuals are currently living with HIV/AIDS in South Carolina,” said DHEC Director of Health Services Lisa Davis. “Early detection through testing for HIV remains essential to successfully identifying and treating the disease and is critical to preventing new infections.”

“Most people in the early stages of HIV infection have no symptoms,” said Davis. “Early diagnosis can link people to services that will help them stay healthy longer, benefit most from treatment, reduce costly hospital visits, and help prevent transmission to others.”

DHEC clinics provide HIV testing for free or at a reduced cost depending on the client’s insurance coverage or ability to pay throughout the year. On December 1, in recognition of World AIDS Day, free HIV testing will be offered at DHEC clinical service sites. Find a health department near you at www.scdhec.gov/health/publichealthclinics.

“DHEC continues to work closely with our partners to promote routine HIV testing for early diagnosing and delivering targeted services to those most in need,” said Davis. “Through our clinics and the partnerships with community providers, testing in 2015 helped diagnose and link 345 people to HIV medical care who may have otherwise not known their status until much later.”

“In the fight against HIV, education and early detection is our strongest weapon,” said Carmen Julious of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, a DHEC community partner that provides targeted testing. “Advancements in HIV medications and treatments continue to help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives, but patients can only benefit from treatment by learning their HIV status as soon as possible, by being tested, and then being linked into a care program.”

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 website at www.scdhec.gov/HIV.

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