Group meets to discuss ending HIV epidemic in South Carolina

On Tuesday, a round table discussion was held with national public health officials to talk about ending the HIV epidemic in South Carolina.

 

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — On Tuesday, a round table discussion was held with national public health officials to talk about ending the HIV epidemic in South Carolina.

Representatives from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) attended a presentation on HIV held by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

“We’re focusing on 50 counties and cities in 7 states, and South Carolina is one of those states,” said Laura Cheever, MD, ScM, an Associate Administrator with the HIV/AIDS Bureau at HRSA. “South Carolina was specifically chosen because it’s one of the states that has a heavy emphasis on rural infections, and we really need to know how to better tackle HIV in rural communities where there’s just a whole different issue in terms of getting access to services and issues around stigma discrimination.”

According to the presentation, South Carolina is one of the top 10 states with a prevalence of HIV. But it’s also one of the top five states in its HIV response.

This is the first state HRSA representatives are visiting, to learn best practices and what’s being done to combat the epidemic.

“One of the things that really struck me was the involvement of the faith community, and how that can make a huge impact in terms of really reducing the stigma with respect to HIV testing,” said Jim Macrae, MA, MPP, an Associate Administrator with the Bureau of Primary Care at HRSA.

“They have been able to hear the data about the burden of HIV in South Carolina, but they also heard what a good job we’re doing in South Carolina in terms of  linking HIV-infected individuals to care, retaining them in care with our health department services,” said Linda Bell, MD, the Director with the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control and State Epidemiologist with DHEC.

Spreading awareness and education about the disease, in hopes of eliminating HIV within the next 10 years.

“One thing I’d say is get tested if you’re unsure, if you think you might be at risk. Because you can live a long, healthy, full and productive life,” said David Pable, someone who is living with HIV and is on the S.C. HIV Planning Counsel.

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