Category Archives: Public Health

DHEC Recognizes June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and DHEC is joining efforts to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease and brain health. During June, the Alzheimer’s Association is inviting people to participate in The Longest Day® on June 21. The event is held annually on the summer solstice, and The Longest Day invites participants to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s by wearing purple, fundraising, and engaging in activities that raise awareness.

Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age. Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, but up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s, which often develops when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

More than 90,000 residents in South Carolina experience Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, according to the South Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. DHEC’s oversight of nursing homes and assisted living facilities includes support and protection for many of these residents, along with the agency’s partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association, and Eat Smart, Move More, SC, among others. 

Brain Health
While the importance of brain health is well known, there is still a great deal scientists and doctors don’t know about the brain. Fortunately, research is advancing, and evidence shows that people can reduce their chances of decreased brain function by adopting key heart-healthy lifestyle habits. 

Here are some steps to take to support a healthy brain: 

  • Fuel up Right and Break a Sweat! Participate in physical activity that raises your heart rate and increases your blood flow. Studies have found that physical activity reduces risk of cognitive decline. 
  • Butt out. Quit Smoking! Smoking increases your risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce risk to levels similar to those who have not smoked. 
  • Follow Your Heart! Risk factors for heart disease and stroke such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes can negatively impact your cognitive health. 
  • Protect Your Noggin! Wear a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike or motorcycle. Use seat belts or child restraint systems designed for the age of your child. 

Click here to learn more about various types of brain conditions including the signs to watch for. The conditions include mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. In general, each of these conditions can include loss of memory and largely involve, but are not limited to, residents who are 65 or older. 

Facts About Alzheimer’s: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for an estimated 60% to 80% of cases. 
  • More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By the year 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million people. 
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.  
  • 1 in 3 Seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
  • 1 in 9 people age 65 and older (11.3%) has Alzheimer’s dementia. 

Source: Alzheimer’s Association  

Have you checked in with yourself lately? May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and did you know that, per Mental Health America, 21% of all U.S. adults live with a mental health condition? With mental health entering more and more of our daily conversations, it’s critical that everyone has a solid foundation of knowledge about mental health.

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Working Together to Protect and Promote Minority Health

April is National Minority Health Month, and this year’s theme is “Give Your Community a Boost!” The focus of the theme is to highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations to help end the pandemic, which disproportionately impacted traditionally marginalized and underserved populations. 

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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.