Monthly Archives: November 2017

From Other Blogs: Opioid overdose epidemic, viral hepatitis, improving urban health through green space & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Rural America in Crisis: The Changing Opioid Overdose Epidemic

In America, 15 out of 100 people live in a rural area.  I loved growing up in a rural community, where there were actually no stop lights, everyone knew their neighbors, and doors were always open. But, my years of working in public health has taught me rural areas are not that different from urban areas when it comes to the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic.

The rate of drug overdose deaths in rural areas has surpassed rates in urban areas, and it is a huge public health concern. Understanding how rural areas are different when it comes to drug use and drug overdose deaths, including opioids, can help public health professionals identify, monitor, and prioritize their response to this epidemic. — From the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Public Health Matters blog

ABCs of Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis is the term that describes inflammation of the liver that is caused by a virus. There are actually five types of hepatitis viruses; each one is named after a letter in the alphabet: A, B, C, D and E.

The most common types of viral hepatitis are A, B and C. These three viruses affect millions of people worldwide, causing both short-term illness and long-term liver disease. The World Health Organization estimates 325 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B or chronic hepatitis C. In 2015, 1.34 million died from viral hepatitis, a number that is almost equal to the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV combined. — From the CDC’s “Public Health Matters” blog

Improving Urban Health through Green Space

While city living has its share of conveniences, stressors like traffic congestion, pollution, and weakened social ties threaten the health and well-being of many urban dwellers. Such factors can lead to a range of mental and physical health concerns. For example, stress is linked to negative impacts on immune functioning. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Blog

Go Green for the Holidays!

Are you one of those organized people who are already prepared for the coming winter holidays? Or do you still have plans to make and gifts to buy? Either way, why not take a second look at some of your usual holiday activities to see if you can make them more “sustainable?”

Sustainability is the responsible use of environmental resources in the present so that future generations will have enough to meet their needs. This is a lofty goal; how can any one person make a difference in reaching it? You may not realize that you are already working toward sustainability if you reuse and recycle; compost; walk, bike, take transit, or drive low-emission vehicles; conserve water and electricity; join community clean-up efforts; or otherwise save resources. — From the CDC’s “Your Health – Your Environment” blog

DHEC in the News: World Aids Day and ‘Ending Epidemics’, free health screenings for women, hurricane season

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

S.C. focuses on ‘Ending Epidemics’

During the early years of the epidemic in the 1980s, AIDS was a death sentence. Across the globe, the disease has claimed an estimated 36 million people in the years since. …

Friday marks World AIDS Day, an international public health campaign promoting awareness of HIV and AIDS prevention and research. …

Toward a unified approach in battling HIV/AIDS and related issues, South Carolina government agencies, private-sector organizations, the faith community, public health professionals and others are coming together for a World AIDS Day event at 6 p.m. Thursday on the north steps of the Statehouse in Columbia.

During the event, officials will unveil a new statewide campaign – “Ending the Epidemics” – that will highlight the need for integrated prevention and care approaches designed to end the HIV/AIDS, STD, Hepatitis C and opioid epidemics.

Tri-County Health Network offers free health screenings to women

The Tri-County Health Network and the Regional Medical Center will offer free WiseWOMAN™ health screenings and lifestyle education to 160 women ages 40 – 64 years old from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10, at RMC Urgent Care, Santee, 111 John Lawson Ave.

The WiseWOMAN™ (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for WOMen Across the Nation) health screening aims to help low-income women reduce their risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The screening will include bloodwork, and all patients will be referred for follow-up care with a RMC Primary Care provider.

General Interest
South Carolina could face worse after horrific hurricane season

HANAHAN — Carlos Borrego stresses every time he hears a gust. The drumming of a generator gives him a headache.

Little more than a month ago, he was at his in-laws’ home in the Puerto Rico mountains near San Juan when the 150 mph winds of Hurricane Maria tore the town to splinters. The destruction — to the homes, the trees, the roads, the bridges — was so massive he couldn’t leave for days.

He finally joined his wife, Niurka, and daughter, Adriana, two weeks ago in their new Hanahan home. Told that Hurricane Hugo made landfall here in 1989 with winds nearly as strong, he is startled. Borrego was a child when that storm also lashed Puerto Rico.

“Hugo? Here?” he says in disbelief.

DHEC encourages HIV testing in recognition of World AIDS Day 2017

World AIDS Day is December 1, and DHEC is encouraging South Carolinians to get tested, know their status and, for those living with HIV, to stay on treatment to keep the virus suppressed.

‘Ending the Epidemics’ in SC

This year, in conjunction with World AIDS Day, DHEC is also promoting the goal of “Ending the Epidemics” in South Carolina. This new initiative focuses on reducing the number of new HIV, STD and Hepatitis C infections by linking individuals to providers, increasing viral suppression for those living with HIV/AIDS, and promoting prevention.

“South Carolina ranked tenth in the country and the District of Columbia in the case rate for HIV diagnoses in 2015,” said Ali Mansaray, Director of DHEC’s STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division. “This year, we hope to raise awareness and encourage people to get tested, and to help those who are living with HIV to start and continue care. Life-saving HIV treatment is available to reduce HIV in the body to very low levels so that those living with HIV stay healthy and are less likely to infect others.”

In 2015, nearly 700 adults and adolescents were newly diagnosed with HIV in South Carolina. As of December 31, 2016, there are an estimated 18,998 South Carolina residents living with diagnosed HIV infection, including AIDS.

“Early detection through testing remains essential to successfully identifying and treating the disease, and helping to end the epidemic,” says Mansaray.

Persons living with HIV need continuous care

Another vital component to ending the HIV epidemic is ensuring that all persons living with HIV are in a continuous system of medical care and treatment. DHEC estimates that almost 6,000 persons living with HIV are not currently receiving medical treatment. To address this situation, DHEC has implemented a new public health strategy, Data to Care, which offers those living with HIV assistance and support to bring them back into care and help them to stay in treatment.

“Medical treatment is so effective that persons living with HIV can effectively control the production of HIV,” said Dr. Bambi Gaddist, Executive Director of the Joseph H. Neal Wellness Center. “The CDC recently announced that people who take their HIV medications as prescribed and achieve and maintain undetectable viral loads have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.” Dr. Gaddist is referring to the notice updating HIV Treatment and Viral Suppression released by the CDC in September.

Testing is available

Throughout the year, DHEC clinics provide HIV testing at a small cost depending on the client’s ability to pay. On November 29, in recognition of World AIDS Day, free HIV and STD testing will be offered at DHEC clinics. In Charleston, free testing will be offered on December 1.

To find a clinic near you, visit

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

DHEC in the News: Opioids, beach access, the dangers of carbon monoxide

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Opioid use by S.C. Medicaid recipients is down due to drug monitoring program, report says

The state’s prescription drug monitoring program is showing promising results in reducing opioid prescriptions written in South Carolina, according to a new University of South Carolina report.

USC researchers were contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services to analyze the effect of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program on Medicaid recipients’ opioid use.

Surfside Beach offering greater beach access to all

Surfing is a popular pastime in the town of Surfside Beach.

And now the town is working to make a prime surf spot more accessible for all visitors and residents who are disabled.

Preventable deaths: A Rock Hill woman’s mission to educate the public on dangers of carbon monoxide

It began with an upset stomach.

Jeannie Williams was in the bathroom in a Best Western hotel in Boone, N.C., where she and her 11-year-old son, Jeffrey, had checked in for the night. Jeffrey had finished showering and was already in bed. It was Jeannie’s turn to get ready for the night. It was supposed to be a short, overnight trip, and the two weren’t far from their home in Rock Hill.

But something had gone terribly wrong.  The mother and her son didn’t know that carbon monoxide — a deadly, odorless, colorless, tasteless gas — was seeping into their room from a pool water heater one floor below.

National Diabetes Month: YOU Are the Most Important Person on Your Health Team

Dr. James Gavin gives tips on how to be the center of your diabetes care team.

Your diabetes health-care team is there to help you live well with diabetes, but you are the most important person on your health care team!  Seek support from health care professionals, family, friends, and your community to successfully manage your diabetes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Below are a few tips to stay healthy with diabetes:

Get routine care

At each visit with your provider make sure you have a:

  • blood pressure check
  • foot check
  • weight check
  • review of your self-care plan
    • Two times each year, have an:
      • A1C test. It may be checked more often if it is over 7.
    • Once each year, be sure you have a:
  • cholesterol test
  • complete foot exam
  • dental exam to check teeth and gums
  • dilated eye exam to check for eye problems
  • flu shot
  • urine and a blood test to check for kidney problems
  • At least once in your lifetime, get a:
  • pneumonia shot
  • hepatitis B shot
  • Watch this video with Dr. James Gavin for tips on how to be the center of your diabetes care team and manage your diabetes.

To learn more about your risk for diabetes, click here to take an online risk assessment.  For more information on how to prevent or manage diabetes in SC, please email or call 803-898-1934 to speak with someone in DHEC’s Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health Division.

Additional Resources to Help You Prevent and Manage Diabetes