National HIV Testing Day is Tuesday and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging South Carolinians to get tested for HIV and other STDs.
"More than 18,000 individuals were currently living with HIV/AIDS in South Carolina at the end of 2015," said Ali Mansaray, Director of DHEC's STD/HIV and Viral Hepatitis Division. "Early detection through testing for HIV remains essential to successfully identifying and treating the disease and is critical to preventing new infections."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in seven people living with HIV in the United States don't know they have it. That means they are not receiving the care and treatment necessary to help improve their health and prevent transmission.
"Most people in the early stages of HIV infection have no symptoms," Mansaray said. "Early diagnosis can link people to services that will help them stay healthy longer, benefit most from treatment, reduce costly hospital visits and help prevent transmission to others."
CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 gets tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Knowing your HIV status allows you take steps to keep you and your partner healthy. National HIV Testing Day promotes HIV testing and early diagnosis. Through DHEC clinics and partnering community providers, testing services in 2016 helped diagnose and link more than 230 people to HIV medical care who otherwise might not have known their status until much later.
Participating local health departments will be offering free testing on Tuesday. DHEC asks that you contact your local health department to schedule your free test. For more information about HIV testing, as well as local HIV testing sites, DHEC asks that you contact their AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437), or visit their website at www.scdhec.gov/HIV. You can also visit their health department finder web page at https://gis.dhec.sc.gov/healthdepartmentfinder/.