More than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Approximately 230,000 of them are unaware they are infected with the virus. DHEC statistics indicate that more than 15,000 people are living with HIV in South Carolina, but officials say the actual rate is much higher, since at least 20 percent of those with HIV don’t know they’re infected.Events are being held throughout South Carolina this week in observance of National HIV Testing Day. This Saturday is National HIV Testing Day.
DHEC’S HIV Prevention Program Manager Tony Price says DHEC is following a new philosophy now, that EVERYONE should get an HIV test. “Just like people should know what their blood pressure or cholestorol level is, we want everyone to know what their HIV status is. Everyone should find out once and for all, regardless of how they view themselves fitting into a particular risk group.”
To find out about testing in your area, call 1-800-322-AIDS or logon to SCDHEC.GOV.
Also, low-cost testing is offered routinely at DHEC locations throughout South Carolina.
Price says there’re several testing options from which people can choose. “There are the oral swab and the finger stick as quick test methods. If a person tests positive, they would then have a regular blood test, and regular blood tests are always available at health centers around the state.”
Price says many HIV patients have been alive and taking medications for a decade or much longer. He says that the sooner a person begins medication, the better his or her chances of avoiding AIDS and a serious decline in health.