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For Immediate Release
December 1, 2014

DHEC encourages HIV testing in recognition of World AIDS Day 2014

COLUMBIA - December 1 is World AIDS Day, and more than 15,700 people are living with HIV in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

"We strongly encourage everyone to learn their status by being tested for HIV," said Janet Tapp, director of DHEC's STD/HIV Division. "As part of our effort to help, we are intensifying our efforts to find those who are unaware of their HIV infection and get them to essential health care services."

Tapp said "Getting to Zero," the theme for World AIDS Day through 2015, is the goal set by DHEC's STD/HIV Division to eventually attain a level of zero new infections and zero new deaths, using HIV-prevention strategies to reduce the risk of infection and increase testing in communities with higher infection rates. 

"HIV is a preventable disease, yet every year more than 500 new HIV infections are identified in South Carolina," Tapp said. "Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection is essential to slow the disease's progress through the body. We want to link these people to the treatment services that are readily available through DHEC public health clinics or more than 20 community-based agencies in communities across the state."

"Advancements in HIV medications and treatments are helping people with HIV live longer, healthier lives," said Carmen Julious of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, a DHEC community partner that provides targeted testing, "but they can only benefit from treatment if they learn their HIV status by being tested and then being linked into a care program."

According to Tapp, partnerships with community providers for targeted testing in 2013 helped diagnose and link 479 people to HIV medical care who may have otherwise not known their HIV status until much later - perhaps when they became ill.

For information about HIV, visit the DHEC website at http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/InfectiousDiseases/HIVandSTDs/. For more information about HIV testing and linkage to care services, contact DHEC's AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437). To find a clinic capable of helping you determine your HIV status, go to  http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/PublicHealthClinics/LocationsHoursContactInfo/

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Jim Beasley
Public Information Director
beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.7769