South Carolina Sits in the Top 10 for New HIV Rates of Diagnosis in the Country
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – On Friday, August 19, 2022, Palmetto Community Care will be working to promote National Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day for the entire Lowcountry community. Founded in 2019 by the Southern AIDS Coalition, this observance occurs annually on August 20, and is an opportunity to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment in our communities. This awareness day is especially important because South Carolina ranks in the top 10 states or areas of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 people. Furthermore, of those top 10 states and areas, 8 out of 10 are in the Deep South. In fact, 51% of all new HIV diagnosis occur in the southern portion of the country while only 38% of the population lives here.*
Multiple factors contribute to the heavy burden of HIV in the South. Stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is pervasive and detrimental. Often connected to the stigma surrounding sexual orientation, substance abuse, poverty, and sex work play key factors in a person’s willingness to disclose their status, seek testing or preventative services, and/or access healthcare.
Sadly, negative stigma is not the only barrier that exists in our state. The South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office estimates that there are over 540,000 people living without health insurance, not to mention those that are underinsured or the overall lack of Medicaid expansion in South Carolina. Access to healthcare is made more challenging for those living outside urban centers like Charleston and/or those living at or below the federal poverty line. Lack of public transportation, longer travel time, and the reality of reduced availability of social services act like negative compounding interest for those living with and at risk for HIV.
At Palmetto Community Care, we believe no one living with HIV or AIDS should go without medical care, everyday resources, and emotional support. We have made it our mission to assist those living with HIV and AIDS by providing a full spectrum of compassionate care and supportive services, while busting myths, breaking down barriers and inspiring hope. We are constantly working toward bringing an end to the HIV epidemic through increased HIV testing, presentation, and education. So, in honor of Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, our Testing and Prevention Department is offering $25 Walmart gift cards for anyone who comes in for HIV testing. Those details can be found below:
Time: 7:30am – 2:00pm
Location: 6296 Rivers Avenue Suite 308, North Charleston, SC 29405
Details: Palmetto Community Care will be offering FREE HIV testing for National American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Any individual that comes in for testing on this day will receive a $25 Walmart gift card.
Palmetto Community Care also offers a PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) program to help combat rising rates of HIV in the greater Charleston community. PrEP is a once daily pill (brand name Truvada or Descovy) that is up to 99 percent effective in reducing HIV rates for those who take the medication as prescribed. Our goal is to make this program and medication free or low cost for participants.
Free, confidential testing for HIV as well as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis is available at the Testing and Prevention Office located at 6296 Rivers Ave, Suite 308 in North Charleston. Testing hours have been expanded and are now 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, 7:30am to 3:00pm on Tuesday and Thursdays, and 7:30am – 12:00pm on Fridays, in addition to their mobile testing van that can be found throughout the Lowcountry at various locations. No appointment needed. Free condoms are also available. If you, your organization, community group, faith group or business would like more information about educational materials and events, partnering with our mobile testing van, or learning how you can help stop the HIV epidemic, let us know. Reach out via social media, email, or visit our website palmettocare.org for more information. Together we can end the HIV epidemic.
*SOURCE: CDC. HIV Surveillance Report, Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2019; vol. 32. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/library/reports/hiv-surveillance.html. May 2021.