Tag Archives: AIDS

DHEC in the News: World Aids Day, Supermoon, flu

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

New HIV prevention program launched in time for World AIDS Day

Every month in South Carolina, 66 people are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.

With nearly 19,000 South Carolinians infected with HIV or AIDS, the state ranks eighth nationally in the rate of AIDS cases and 10th in HIV cases.

So as people around the globe mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, state health officials have launched an initiative to reduce the number of new infections through better health care and prevention.

Called “Stop the Epidemics,” the effort also targets sexually transmitted diseases and Hepatitis C, which has tripled in the past five years, with millennials making up the fastest growing group of those infected.

General Interest

Supermoon coming to South Carolina skies Sunday; meteor shower in mid-December

Up in the sky on Sunday will shine the year’s only Supermoon. The skies should be mostly clear. The full moon could bring flood tides.

A week later, the heavens will blaze with a Geminid meteor shower. In the midst of the shower, NASA astronaut and Citadel graduate Randy Bresnik returns to Earth.

Supermoons are full moons that appear larger than usual because they arrive when the full moon is at perigee, or a point closest to earth in its oval-shaped orbit.

Australia’s flu season has US health officials bracing for a bad winter, and wishing for a new vaccine

The flu season is just getting underway in North America, but if Australia’s experience with influenza is any guide, we’re in for a miserable winter.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Wednesday that the United States could experience a “relatively severe influenza season.” If so, it would extend a run of bad luck that began in 2014, when the available flu vaccines proved to be a poor match for the most common viruses in circulation.

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 www.scdhec.gov/health/publichealthclinics.

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 www.scdhec.gov/HIV.