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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2015

DHEC encourages HIV testing in recognition of World AIDS Day 2015

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

"More than 16,000 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."

The 2015 World AIDS Day theme is "The time to act is now," which focuses on utilizing all available resources in order to eradicate HIV/AIDS.

"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."

"We continue 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 DHEC clinics and the partnerships with community providers, testing in 2014 helped diagnose and link 496 people to HIV medical care who may have otherwise not known their status until much later."

"We encourage everyone to know their HIV status," said Carmen Julious of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, a DHEC community partner that provides targeted testing. "Advancements in HIV medications and treatments help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives, but they can only benefit from treatment by learning their HIV status 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 scdhec.gov/HIV.

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Cassandra Harris
Public Information Officer
harriscs@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127