State health department to offer free STD testing Thursday

State health department to offer free STD testing Thursday
This microscope image made available by the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. (Source: Dr. E. Arum, Dr. N. Jacobs/CDC via AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina residents will be able to be screened at no cost Thursday for several sexually-transmitted diseases.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will offer free screening for hepatitis C, HIV, clamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at DHEC clinics.

DHEC is encouraging people to schedule an appointment for screening by calling 1-855-472-3432.

The effort is part of National STD Awareness Week.

Click here to find a clinic near you.

“STDs are preventable, and an important step in prevention is getting tested,” DHEC STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division Director Ali Mansaray said. “With the number of certain types of STDs rising annually in South Carolina and across the nation, we can’t do enough to educate each other about the importance of STD safety, including prevention and treatment, which is what National STD Awareness Week is all about.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of STD cases nationally has spiked since 2014, with more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reported in 2018 alone. This upward trend in STD numbers leads to an increase in other challenges as well, including the number of babies born with syphilis and risks of infertility.

For the past several years, DHEC said national syphilis rates increased among both males and females in every region, and among every race and ethnicity.

Here in South Carolina, infectious, early, and total syphilis cases have continued to rise year after year in all populations and most concerning women, pregnant women, and newborns.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people canceled or delayed routine checkups and sexual health appointments. With successful disease prevention protocols in place at health departments and doctors’ offices around the state, and with virtual telehealth services available from some providers, it’s important to make the time to stay up to date on STD and HIV testing.

“Through continued support with community partners and public outreach efforts, our program is committed to providing the resources that make a difference in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Mansaray said. “STD and HIV testing is a critical first step in that process.”

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