Lowcountry Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services was founded in 1985 originally as a volunteer organization. Five years later, on February 22, 1990, Susan Dunn and William Hicks were named as two of our officers and we were officially incorporated. Just a short 2 years later, our name changed to Lowcountry AIDS Services or LAS. For 26 years, LAS faithfully served this area and continued to expand our services fulfill our mission and meet the growing needs of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
As the epidemic changed, so did LAS. By 2018, individuals living with HIV were living long healthy lives with proper medical care, fewer persons living with HIV were progressing to an AIDS diagnosis, and we adapted with the epidemic. What’s in a name change? A simple way to evolve and reduce stigma. This was one small action we took to make a large-scale impact on the stigma connected to HIV/AIDS. In 2018, Lowcountry AIDS Services officially started doing business as Palmetto Community Care.
Lowcountry AIDS Services, dba Palmetto Community Care (PCC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service agency dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. PCC provides case management, access to medical care, housing assistance, financial assistance, nutritional assistance, and legal assistance along with an array of other supportive services to hundreds in the Charleston area. PCC also works to prevent this epidemic through education, media campaigns, community outreach, and free, daily HIV/STD testing.
Palmetto Community Care is the only private or public organization in our Tri-County service area (Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties) of the Low Country Public Health Region whose sole mission is to assist individuals living with HIV/AIDS. PCC is committed to addressing HIV-related health disparities and increasing the number of HIV-positive individuals who know their status, are linked to, and are retained in medical care, and achieve viral load suppression. Our service model closely aligns with the steps along the HIV Care Continuum and the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. By offering a full range of testing, linkage, medical case management, and referrals to medical care and supportive services, we have been extremely successful in achieving these goals. Over a three-year period from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2021, 82% of our clients achieved viral suppression (<40 copies/ml) and an additional 10% of our clients showed improved viral outcomes. Thus, 92% of our clients are virally suppressed or well on their way to becoming undetectable.
We believe that providing a robust array of services, client treatment adherence education and referrals to additional needed services is key to keeping clients retained in care and focused on achieving optimal health outcomes. Our ultimate goal at PCC is to assist our clients to live a life of health and dignity and achieve self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.
PCC’s mission takes a multi-faceted approach to help those affected with HIV/AIDS, while also working to prevent the spread of HIV through testing, awareness campaigns, educational initiatives, and advocacy. In carrying out our mission, PCC strives to:
- Provide practical and emotional support to people with HIV/AIDS, their families, friends, and loved ones.
- Educate the public about HIV and AIDS and its prevention
- Confront discrimination when it interferes with compassionate care for clients.
- Act as an advocate, resource, and referral agency for people affected by HIV and AIDS.
- Work cooperatively with and provide assistance to the healthcare community and social service organizations.
- Represent the needs of people affected by HIV and AIDS on a local, state, and national level; ensure their fair and equitable treatment, and secure sufficient resources.
Our Intended Outcomes
- Our intended outcomes of HIV/AIDS medical case management for persons living with HIV/AIDS include:
- Early linkage to and retention in comprehensive medical care.
- Improved integration of services provided across a variety of community collaborations.
- Enhanced accessibility and continuity of specialized medical care and medications.
- Prevention of HIV transmission and delay of HIV progression through viral suppression.
- Increased knowledge of HIV, HAART, and Treatment Adherence.
- Reinforcement of positive health behaviors to achieve optimal health outcomes.
- Personal empowerment and efficacy.
- Improved quality of life through self-sustainability.
Under PCC’s umbrella, Truesdale Medical Center opened to clients on October 29, 2018. The medical staff provides HIV Medical Care, Primary Health Care, Acute Illness, Chronic Illness (hypertension, diabetes, etc.), Gynecological (GYN) Services, STI/HIV Prevention & Treatment and Viral Hepatitis Management.
TMC and PCC have worked collaboratively in establishing processes and procedures for referrals for clients to access medical care. Medical case managers, peer advocates, and medical providers at TMC and PCC will be meeting on a weekly basis to conduct care conferences to coordinate clients’ needs and ensure access to all core and supportive services. Truesdale Medical Center provides excellence in health care as well as focusing on complete, compassionate HIV care and preventative medical services. They are committed to improving the health of those we serve and to offer treatment in a caring, respectful, and cost-effective manner.