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COLUMBIA – To promote public health and recognize April as National STD Awareness Month, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is holding a day of no-cost STD screening for South Carolinians.

On Wednesday, April 17, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., residents can visit their local health department to be tested for hepatitis C, HIV and syphilis at no cost. Appointments are encouraged and may be scheduled by calling 1-855-4-SCDHEC.

“STDs are preventable, and an individual’s first step in prevention and intervention is getting tested,” said Ali Mansaray, director of DHEC's STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division. “With the number of STDs rising annually in South Carolina and across the nation, we cannot do enough to promote awareness and education about the importance of STD safety. Prevention, intervention and treatment are what National STD Awareness Month is all about.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of STD cases nationally has increased since 2013, with more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reported in 2017 alone. This upward trend in STD numbers leads to an increase in other challenges, including severe illnesses and abnormalities among babies born to mothers with syphilis infection and infertility among women who have had gonorrhea or chlamydia.

In 2017, the number of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis infections in South Carolina increased. However, annual new cases of HIV in the state have declined since 2015, according to DHEC’s STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division.

“Through continued support with community partners and public outreach efforts, our programs are committed to providing the resources that make a difference in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Mansaray said. “STD and HIV testing is a critical first step in that process.”

For more information about STDs and sites that will provide no-cost testing, call DHEC's STD/HIV Hotline at 1-800-322-2437 or visit www.scdhec.gov/stdhiv.

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