DHEC to offer free testing for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Feb. 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. In an effort to recognize the day, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is offering free testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at several public health departments on Tues. Feb. 6
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was first observed in 1999 to acknowledge how HIV disproportionately affects Black people.
This year’s theme is “Engage, Educate, Empower: Uniting to End HIV/AIDS in Black Communities.”
- Engage: Discuss ways to better involve the black community in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts. This can include outreach programs, community partnerships, and utilizing local leaders and influencers to promote HIV testing and destigmatize the conversation around HIV/AIDS.
- Educate: Focusing on improving HIV/AIDS education among black youth and adults. This could cover the latest research, treatment options, understanding of PrEP and PEP medications, and debunking myths that contribute to stigma and discrimination.
- Empower: Highlighting success stories and strategies that have effectively empowered black individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Empowerment can be through advocacy, policy change, access to care, and support systems.
"Among those for whom we have data on their race, African Americans account for 67% of the total number of people living with diagnosed HIV in South Carolina, though they represent only 26% of the state's total population,” said Ali Mansaray, director for DHEC's division of STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis.
One of DHEC’s goals is to “end the epidemics” in South Carolina, with the Palmetto State being free of new cases of STDs, HIV, substance use disorders, and Viral Hepatitis.
"It’s important to get tested to know if you’re healthy or not. You won’t know if you don’t know if anything's wrong if you don’t get tested so you know your status,” said Jose Giocamea, media relations with AID Upstate, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing and treating HIV through advocacy, education, and awareness.
You can call 1-855-4-SCDHEC or use the DHEC service locator to find testing centers. Screenings include being tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.