Category Archives: Disease Control

April 10-16 is STD Awareness Week

The week of April 10-16 presents a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of STDs in all populations.

STD Awareness Week provides an opportunity to examine how STDs impact our lives. It also helps to reduce STD-related stigma, fear, and discrimination. Through this special week, DHEC works to ensure that people have the tools and knowledge to prevent, test for, and treat STDs.

You can find an STD testing location near you by calling DHEC’s AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437) or visiting DHEC’s service locator at www.scdhec.gov/HIVLocator.

Targeted Approach

DHEC’s programs and community partners target their HIV and STD prevention efforts to reach persons most at risk of acquiring these infections. This includes efforts to reach youth and young adults with information and resources to avoid the infections.

In 2020, 84% of cases of chlamydia in South Carolina were diagnosed in adolescents and adults under the age of 30. Of those cases, more than one in four (28%) were diagnosed in youth ages 15 to 19.

Also, in 2020, more than two-thirds (70%) of gonorrhea cases were diagnosed in persons between the ages of 15 to 29. Of those persons diagnosed, almost one of every five cases (18%) were among youth ages 15 to 19.

DHEC’s programs also work to increase access to treatment and support services for those who are impacted by HIV and other STDs.

Visit the DHEC website for more information and resources on HIV and STDsYou can also learn more about South Carolina’s Ending the Epidemics Plan.

DHEC Works to Continue to Control and Eliminate Tuberculosis (TB)

When Dr. Robert Koch announced in 1882 his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB), it marked a critical turning point in the fight against the disease. It’s a fight that DHEC’s TB Control Division and its partners continue in South Carolina today.  

In recent years, the push to control TB across the globe had been making positive strides until 2020 when there was what many hope will turn out to be simply a brief setback.  

“For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. The theme of World TB Day 2022 – ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives.’ – conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitment to end TB made by global leaders.” 

– Pan American Health Organization; World Health Organization, 2022 

March 24 is World TB Day, and DHEC’s TB Control Division will celebrate it on Friday March 25, 2022. We will join local, state, national, and global public health officials, and partners in recognizing Dr. Koch’s efforts as well as that of people across the world who have worked to control and eliminate TB. 

Click here to learn more about our work with partners to fight this illness. 

About TB 

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs that can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or speaking. It is treatable and preventable. We all can play an important role in eliminating tuberculosis in our community by understanding the signs and symptoms and helping to educate others.   

The signs and symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected, but the general signs and symptoms of TB disease include:  

  • feelings of sickness or weakness,  
  • weight loss,  
  • fever,  
  • night sweats, 
  • chest pain, 
  • coughing, and 
  • coughing up blood.  

Click here for a short video on one person’s story related to TB. 

DHEC Celebrates American Heart Month

DHEC’s Healthcare Quality Team wore red in honor of National Go Red Day on Feb. 4

February is American Heart Month, and it provides an opportunity for people to focus on cardiovascular health.

DHEC’s Division of Diabetes and Heart Disease Management wants to encourage everyone to take action to improve their cardiovascular health. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. This means 1 in every 4 deaths total in the U.S. 

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are the key risk factors for heart disease. Getting regular health screenings can detect elevated levels and help with early detection or diagnosis.  

Whatever your age or activity level, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risks. Engaging in in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet, being smoke-free, and limiting the use of alcohol can lower your risk of heart disease and help you live an overall healthier life. 

Check out the DASH for Good Health Southern Style Cookbook for heart healthy recipes. You’ll find heart healthy tips on seasoning substitutions, eating at restaurants, and meal plans. Try the lemon chicken and potatoes recipe.  

For more information on heart health, watch the February 9th episode of Wellness Wednesday, sponsored by the Division of Diabetes and Heart Disease Management archived on the In It Together Facebook page. 

We also want to thank all DHEC employees who wore red, decorated your space, or both to raise awareness on National Go Red Day on Feb. 4.

DHEC Celebrates One Health Day Showing the Health of Humans, Animals, and the Environment Connect

Over time, it has become more and more clear that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. The acknowledgment of that relationship is known as One Health. 

Each November 3, human, animal and environmental health experts, like those at DHEC and elsewhere, join communities around the world to bring awareness to this important concept. The idea is to promote the best health for all people, animals, and the environment. 

It is critical to address shared health threats at the place where humans, animals, and the environment intersect. One Health involves health experts of all types and on all levels — local, regional, national, and global levels — working on the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes through the recognition of the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. 

There are lots of examples of how the health of people is related to the health of animals and the environment. Here are just a couple:  
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  • Zoonotic diseases: Zoonotic diseases are conditions that can be spread between people and animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), more than half of all infections people can get are zoonotic diseases. These conditions include the likes of rabies, Salmonella, and West Nile virus. 
  • Food Safety: Food safety is important to prevent people (and animals) from becoming sick after eating food or drinks that contain harmful germs or environmental toxins. CDC estimates that each year 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated food or drinks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illnesses cost the United States more than $15.6 billion each year. 

These examples show that wide-ranging partnerships that include trained staff with backgrounds in human public health, agriculture, veterinary medicine, food safety, disease ecology, and more are needed to respond appropriately to One Health challenges. This includes the historic COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed a significant spotlight (and challenge) on One Health because it has demanded rapid, innovative, collaborative approaches to respond to and limit as much as possible its devastating impact. 

The CDC’s One Health Office focuses on this relationship between people, animals, and the environment. Staff at DHEC are involved in One Health activities every day. The One Health approach encourages experts such as disease detectives, laboratorians, physicians, and veterinarians to work together to improve the health of all — from people to pets to livestock to wildlife. 

Visit the CDC’s website to learn more about One Health and One Health Day. Also learn more about One Health by watching this video

DHEC Division One of Four Selected for Nationwide CDC Pilot for Cancer Survivorship

The Division of Cancer Prevention, located in the Bureau of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, was one of four awardees nationwide selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a pilot project to address rural and urban disparities in cancer survivorship.

The pilot project, titled “Improving the Health and Wellness of Cancer Survivors in Rural Communities,” focused specifically on tele-mentoring strategies using Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) to increase coordination and movement of knowledge between specialists and primary care providers. The internationally recognized Project ECHO offers a unique knowledge-sharing approach to create an online community that shares best-practices and case-based learning resources. This online model leverages technology to expand the reach and connectivity of providers in rural areas to subject-specific knowledge and specialists.

SC CCCP held monthly; one-hour Zoom sessions from October 2020 to February 2021. Topics included cancer pain management, sexuality and intimacy, and nutrition for cancer survivor patients. Each session was able to provide expert-delivered content that highlighted best-care practices and created a community of practice among oncologists, primary care providers, nurses, social workers, researchers, administrators, and other caregivers.

Over this ECHO series, the project reached 102 unique participants, with an average of 37 participants per session. Data from this pilot project was able to link providers in four rural counties with specialists in seven urban SC counties and four out-of-state sites. Providers who participated in the ECHO intervention reported up to 60% of their patient population reside in rural areas, which speaks to the intervention’s achievement in targeting rural patients for improved cancer care and outcomes.

“Residents in our rural counties often have less health care access including fewer health care workers, specialists such as cancer doctors, and transportation options,” said Sonya Younger, Comprehensive Cancer Control Program Director. “Rural residents are also more likely to be uninsured and to live farther away from health services. Through innovative telementoring, Project ECHO helped the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control increase rural provider workforce knowledge to provide best-practice, cancer specialty extended care.”

Visit the SC Cancer Alliance’s website to listen to the Cancer Survivorship Project ECHO recorded presentations at https://www.sccancer.org/events/cancer-survivorship-project-echo-recorded-presentations/ 

VIDEO INFORMATION 

Took this out:

By utilizing the ECHO model to share knowledge and foster a clinical community, reaching widespread providers and other clinical professionals that service rural communities, the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control shows the core value of Inspiring Innovation and is an example of the agency strategies of Service and Accessibility and Education and Engagement.

Success was possible through the connectedness of the SC Cancer Division including Best Chance Network, Comprehensive Cancer Control, and Research and Planning program staff and its partners and providers, as well as virtual sessions and electronic communication, demonstrating DHEC’s core value of Promoting Teamwork