Tag Archives: HIV/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 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 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.

DHEC in the News: National HIV Testing Day, Adopt-a-Stream, Murrells Inlet wetlands, Riverside Park

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

The [Minority AIDS Council] will be sponsoring a community forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Orangeburg. The program’s topic will be “Shining a Light on HIV/AIDS in the Tri-County.”

A discussion panel will include Shiheda Furse, community manager at HopeHealth, which provides outpatient treatment and care for people with HIV/AIDS living in the tri-county region; MAC member and HIV advocate Pat Kelly and the Rev. Todd A. Brown, pastor of New Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Wilhemina Dixon, a Barnwell County woman whose story of resilience after both her daughter and her granddaughter were diagnosed with AIDS became the subject of a PBS documentary, will also be a panelist.

Brown said he hopes the forum will bring about change, particularly within the African-American community, where HIV/AIDS infection rates are the highest.

Worried about the water in a nearby river? You can do something about it.

Adopt-A-Stream is looking for volunteers to document river conditions monthly and alert regulators of changing water quality or illegal discharges. Volunteers will be trained in classes and given a website to work from.

They will collect visual, chemical, bacteria and macroinvertebrate samples. Macroinvertebrates are creatures without backbones, including bugs, mollusks and crustaceans.

Some new wetlands should soon be taking root in Murrells Inlet.

The blankets of plants, including iris, sedge, spartina, black needlerush, soft-stem rush and yellow water canna, were installed at two sites June 14.

If things go according to plan, the plants will root in the pond soil and spread.

The manmade wetlands, both floating and nonfloating, are an outgrowth of the Murrells Inlet 2020 watershed plan, created to protect the inlet’s fragile marsh and shellfish beds.

  • DHEC is working with North Augusta city officials to dispose of contaminated soil found at Riverside Park.

About a month ago, construction workers came across contaminated soil when they were moving dirt around center field.

“When they started digging they could even smell the fumes from it,” said City Administrator Todd Glover.

The future home of the Augusta GreenJackets used to be what we’ve come to know as an industrial park.

For more health and environmental news, visit Live Healthy SC.

This week at DHEC

Highlights from this week at DHEC:

Don’t Waste Food

Richard Chesley interviewed with ABC Columbia about our Don’t Waste Food S.C. campaign. Richard pointed out that 38.4 million tons of food are simply thrown away in the United States every year.  To put it another way, 40% of all food processed is simply tossed in the circular file.

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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

nbhaad-facebook-infographic-1200x1200In observance of  National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7th, we worked with community-based organizations to offer free HIV testing testing events across South Carolina. More than 12,600 African-Americans in our state are living with HIV/AIDS, and thousands more haven’t been tested. For more information about the fight against AIDS in South Carolina, including local HIV testing sites, call DHEC’s AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437), or visit http://www.scdhec.gov/stdhiv .

Gold Star Honor for Tobacco-Free Efforts

teamphotoThis week DHEC was recognized by the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well initiative and Prevention Partners for achieving the highest standard of tobacco-free excellence.

Jen Wright of Working Well visited DHEC to present Director Catherine Heigel and members of our Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control and Worksite Wellness team the Gold Star award for creating a tobacco-free workplace and providing high-quality tobacco cessation programs for employees..

In order for an organization to receive this recognition, it must have a tobacco-free worksite policy, refer its employees to effective quit programs and counseling, provide comprehensive cessation benefits (nicotine replacement therapy and prescription medications) and offer incentives to encourage employees to quit tobacco. These are among several evidence-based components recommended by Working Well and Prevention Partners for comprehensive quit-tobacco systems at worksites.