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COLUMBIA -- To commemorate World AIDS Day, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is joining partners in a daylong event centered on efforts to end the HIV epidemic. The agency also is sponsoring no-cost testing for HIV, STDs and hepatitis C at health care offices around the state.

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The “Ending the Epidemics SC” event will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, at the S.C. State House in Columbia and is an opportunity for South Carolinians to unite in the fight against the intersecting epidemics of HIV, STDs, viral hepatitis and substance use disorders; show their support for people living with these issues; and remember those who have died.

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"Earlier this year, South Carolina was selected to be part of a new national strategy to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030,” said Ali Mansaray, director of DHEC's STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division. “We’re working with federal officials and local stakeholders to expand access to HIV testing, treatment and prevention services across the state.”

The Dec. 2 event includes informational booths and a special story-telling event featuring South Carolinians who have been impacted by HIV, STDs, viral hepatitis and substance use disorders.

Additionally, on Dec. 3, DHEC is sponsoring testing events at health departments throughout the state. Residents can be tested for HIV, STDs, and hepatitis C at no cost.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, nearly 20,000 South Carolina residents are living with diagnosed HIV infection (including AIDS). Between 2016 and 2017, an estimated 1,500 people were newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the state. Of those newly diagnosed, 66 percent were African American, 22 percent were white, and 8 percent were Hispanic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 1.1 million people nationally have HIV, and one in seven of them don’t know they have it.

"Early detection through testing remains essential to successfully identifying and treating the disease, and helping to end the epidemic," Mansaray said. “It’s critical that people get tested and know their diagnosis so those who have HIV can get treatment as soon as possible.”

For more information about the Dec. 2 event or the Dec. 3 no-cost testing, call 1-855-4SCDHEC (1-855-472-3432), or visit www.scdhec.gov/World-AIDS-Day.

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