FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Events are scheduled throughout South Carolina the week of June 27 in observance of National HIV Testing Day, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.
“June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, which gives us the opportunity to highlight DHEC’s low-cost HIV testing services that are offered routinely at DHEC’s county public health departments across the state,” said Janet Tapp, director for DHEC’s STD/HIV Division. “In addition, DHEC’s community-based partners will offer free rapid HIV testing, which shows preliminary results within an hour.”
Tapp said options for HIV testing in community-based settings have increased in recent years, providing greater access for persons to know their HIV status. “Testing is the first step in linking persons with HIV to appropriate care, which includes treatment and prevention services,” she said.
“We target our testing program to men and women in our community who are most at risk of having HIV,” said Carmen Julious, executive director of PALSS, a Midlands-based AIDS services organization that partners with DHEC for HIV prevention. “Through nontraditional service hours and sites, we give access to HIV testing to persons who might not otherwise get a test.”
The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1.1 million Americans live with HIV, and approximately 230,000 of them are unaware they are infected with the virus. DHEC statistics show more than 15,100 people are known to be living with HIV in South Carolina. It is unknown how many more people have HIV in the state and not know it because they have not been tested.
For more information about HIV testing events and sites near you, call DHEC’s AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437). For more information, visit DHEC’s STD/HIV Web pages at http://www.scdhec.gov/stdhiv/.