DHEC offers free HIV testing during “PrEP Awareness Week”
Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — This week is the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s third annual “PrEP Awareness Week.”
As part of the initiative, free and confidential HIV testing will be available at colleges and universities across the state, including the University of South Carolina, Allen University, Voorhees College, and Benedict College.
“This initiative started three years ago as a way to increase PrEP awareness and usage across the state. The CDC reported about 10,400 individuals who could benefit from PrEP. But currently, there are under 3,000 individuals being prescribed PrEP. And so “PrEP Awareness Week” is a time that we can promote and provide information about PrEP,” says DHEC’s Program Manager Tia Robinson.
DHEC finds the pre-exposure prophylaxis pill known as PrEP to be highly effective for the prevention of contracting HIV. “If taken as prescribed either as a pill once a day or as an injectable that you receive every 2 months, PrEP can reduce your chances of acquiring HIV by up to 99 percent,” says Robinson.
“We do know that there are communities that are disproportionately affected by HIV so it’s important that we’re raising awareness about HIV and encouraging individuals to take control of their sexual health — which includes going to get tested for HIV, knowing your status, as well as preventing HIV by using PrEP or making sure you use condoms with sexual intercourse,” says Robinson.
Free HIV testing will also be available by appointment on September 29th at multiple public health departments across the state.
For more information on PrEP Awareness Week, visit DHEC’s website here. According to DHEC, appointments for HIV/STD testing and evaluation and referral for PrEP can also be made at local DHEC public health departments by calling DHEC’s Care Line at 1-855-472-3432.