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HIV infections in Charleston area continue to climb - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

HIV infections in Charleston area continue to climb

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The number of people with HIV continues to climb in our state.

Charleston has one of the fastest growing infection rates in South Carolina.

Local clinics are trying to get the word out this week for National HIV Testing Week.

"HIV is a virus and it doesn't discriminate against anybody. So you know young and old, black or white, any orientation, anyone out there," said Topher Larkin, program outreach coordinator for Lowcountry AIDS Services.

South Carolina ranks first in the nation in heterosexual transmissions and 8th for new HIV infections.

That's according to the health department.

"If you're sexually active get tested at least every 6 months. Twice a year, think of it like a dentist visit," said Larkin.

Men, particularly black men make up the highest percentage of people who have tested positive.

Larkin says the responsible thing to do is to find out your status.

Lowcoutry AIDS Services offers a rapid test that is done by pricking the finger to draw blood.

And 10 minutes for no cost at all, the patient will know their status.

The Ryan White Program over at Roper Saint Francis in West Ashley also does free HIV testing.

Aaron O'Brien, program analyst of the Ryan White Program said, "We use an oral swab test, so there are no needles and there's no blood."

It takes 20 minutes for the results.

"They can be in and out on their lunch break, know their HIV status and it doesn't cost anything," said O'Brien.

O'brien says the local health department will follow up with anyone who does test positive for HIV.

"And that's essentially so they can make sure that nobody else may have been exposed," said O'Brien.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control shows that Charleston has one of the fastest-growing HIV infection rates in the state.

"HIV has a stigma associated with it that we don't have with other diseases such as diabetes or cancer, but the truth is anybody can be affected by HIV and AIDS," said O'Brien.

The Ryan White Program and Lowcountry AIDS Services both offer free testing all the time at their clinics.

They tell me your information will be kept confidential.

Lowcountry Aids Services will be holding events this week where people can go get tested.

Public testing events:

June 25th

Trident Technical College (Main Campus)

Room 214/216

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

June 25th

Trident Technical College Palmer Campus

Room 107

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

June 26th

Dudley's on Ann

9 p.m. to midnight?

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