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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Free Testing

Update Date: Feb 08, 2017 09:28 AM EST

Community-based organizations and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control offered free HIV testing on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Tuesday. Various tests were offered throughout the state in local health departments and community agencies.

Such tests were the traditional blood draw method and rapid test that allows patients to get preliminary results in less than an hour. More than 12,600 African-American are living with HIV/AIDS. Most have not been tested and don't know their HIV status said Linda Bell state epidemiologist and director of the agency's Bureau of Disease Control.

Dr. Bell said "The annual observance emphasizes the steps that individuals, families, agencies and communities can take together to make the greatest impact and reduce the stigma of testing." The program aimed to teach facts about HIV, give free testing and get citizens to become involved by helping to link people with HIV to treatment according to News 2.

According to Advocate, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was originally established in 1999. Eighteen years later, it became a vital reminder about the impact of HIV that continues to devastate the nation.

African-Americans are one of the three ethnic groups most impacted by HIV. African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) have the highest estimated HIV prevalence. African-American MSM that are 18 to 29-years-old are one of the fastest-rising groups contracting the disease.

Everyone in the community has a responsibility to learn facts about HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. It is important that we all know how to prevent HIV transmissions and help support HIV-positive people to reduce stigma associated with living with HIV. To ensure that these people seek medical care that they need by talking to their loved ones.

Get tested and get involved. To find local HIV testings, people can visit DHEC's website at: http://www.scdhec.gov/stdhiv.

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