SC health department marking World AIDS Day

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina public health officials hope to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS as part of World AIDS Day.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control says the state is observing the day on Wednesday.

DHEC STD/HIV director Janet Tapp says the department is offering free or low-cost rapid tests for HIV. Community groups are also holding candlelight vigils and other events to raise awareness and remembers those who have died from AIDS.

Tapp says the theme for World AIDS Day 2010 stresses the importance of learning the facts about HIV and taking action to help prevent it.

Tapp says more than 14,000 people in South Carolina are known to be living with HIV or AIDS.

In Charleston, Roper St. Francis Hospital commemorated the day by thanking MAC Cosmetics who had given to the Ryan White Program.

The hospital has raised $128,000 in housing assistance to cover short- and long-term rent, mortgage and utilities for qualified patients during 2009. The program additionally coordinates comprehensive medical care for people living with HIV and AIDS.

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