September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

National Sickle Cell Awareness Month brings attention to this crippling illness, a genetic disease that many people around the world struggle with and must manage daily.  Recognizing Sickle Cell Awareness Month helps to dismiss stereotypes and stigmas associated with persons who have sickle cell disease.  Not only does this month shine light on sickle cell disease (SCD) but also sickle cell trait (SCT).  Here is some -information about SCD and SCT.

Quick Facts About SCD:

  • SCD is a blood disorder that causes sickling of the red blood cells.
  • Sickle-shaped red blood cells become stuck in blood vessels and cause disruption of blood flow – this results in crises.
  • SCD affects 100,000 people in the United States.
  • SCD is an inherited blood disorder from the person’s parent, like any other genetic trait, such, as hair color and texture, and eye color.

Quick Facts About SCT:

  • SCT is where a person inherits one sickle cell gene and one normal gene.
  • SCT is not a disease and is generally asymptomatic.
  • SCT affects 1 million to 3 million Americans and 8 to 10 percent of African Americans.
  • Persons with SCT can pass the trait on to their children.


What is the Likelihood a person will inherit SCD or SCT?

Sickle Cell DHEC Infographic

DHEC’s Sickle Cell Program

DHEC’s Division of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) provides assistance to persons with sickle cell disease by covering services, such as:

  • medical expenses
  • physician visits
  • durable medical equipment
  • medical supplies
  • prescription drugs

Assistance is offered to both children and adults who meet eligibility requirements.  Additionally, CYSHCN partners with the Newborn Screening Follow-Up program to ensure infants who are newly diagnosed with sickle cell disease have a medical home to address treatment and care for their disease.

Through partnerships with four sickle cell community-based organizations — the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation, – Louvenia D. Barksdale Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, – Orangeburg Area Sickle Cell Foundation and – COBRA Human Services Agency Sickle Cell Program — more persons with sickle cell disease are able to obtain services and support.

South Carolina’s Efforts to Address Services for Sickle Cell Patients & Families

As a part of the agency’s commitment to educate the community and public about the availability of resources and services for individuals and families living with sickle cell disease, DHEC collaborated with the South Carolina Sickle Cell Disease Advocacy Team to develop “A Call to Action: South Carolina Sickle Cell Disease State Plan.”  This three-year plan provides a framework for addressing gaps in sickle cell disease care as well as highlights strategies and resources to support patients with SCD.

The full plan be viewed at Sickle Cell Plan_CR-012241_Final.

sickle cell plan

If you have questions about the DHEC sickle cell program, contact the CYSHCN office at 803-898-0784.  For general information about sickle cell disease, visit or

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