DHEC Offers Free HIV Testing at Colleges
COLUMBIA, S.C. ― Free testing for HIV and educational webinars about the importance of HIV prevention and sexual health are the focus of this year’s PrEP Awareness Week, which takes place Sept. 26-30. PrEP Awareness Week aims to increase understanding of HIV prevention and the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill or injectable administered every two months that can help greatly reduce the risk of HIV infection.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) organized an inaugural PrEP Awareness Week in 2020 and is once again coordinating with the South Carolina AIDS Education & Training Center to promote the benefits of PrEP. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012, PrEP is a daily pill for use by people who don’t have HIV but who are at risk for exposure to it. Most recently, an injectable was approved in 2021 for PrEP use, with the shot administered every two months by a health care provider.
“We’re happy to be able to provide, for the third year, PrEP Awareness Week initiatives that help increase awareness among providers and the community about PrEP, medication that data tells us is underutilized in South Carolina,” said Ali Mansaray, director of DHEC’s STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division. “We invite medical providers, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, health educators, and community advocates to participate in our series of webinars to learn more about the benefits of PrEP and overall HIV prevention and sexual health.”
Seven free continuing education credits are available to providers (CME, CNE, pharmacy and social work) who attend the virtual seminars.
Additionally, free and confidential HIV and other STD testing will be offered at several colleges and universities across the state, including the University of South Carolina, Claflin University, Denmark Technical College/Voorhees University, Francis Marion University, Coastal Carolina University, Allen University, Benedict College and Trident Technical College/College of Charleston/Charleston Southern University. The dates and times of testing available at these locations is available at scdhec.gov/PrEPweek.
“During PrEP Awareness Week, we encourage everyone to take advantage of the free testing and educational resources available so you can take steps to know your own health status and take better care of yourself and others,” Mansaray said.
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 or using the online webchat. Learn more at scdhec.gov/PrEPweek.