SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – An Upstate organization is working to prevent more cases of HIV/AIDS in local communities.
Piedmont Care serves Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union counties.
Executive Director Tracey Jackson said the organization has served more than 1,500 people living with HIV/AIDS and their families since 1994, and are currently serving more than 650.
The Dare to Care event Tuesday was to raise money to help prevent the problem from growing.
The funds will go to HIV testing and counseling, giving out condoms, and raising awareness through education.
They say HIV/AIDS is a significant problem for the entire state of South Carolina.
“We’re in the top 10 in the nation in AIDS case rates. We know that the South as a region is the hardest hit by this epidemic. People tend to come into care later, and therefore sicker. People are less likely to have health insurance,” Jackson said.
Jackson said HIV can infect anyone. However she says the African American community is hardest hit in South Carolina.
Even though they make up about a third of the population, they account for 70 percent of HIV diagnoses.
Jackson said they want to promote prevention, and get rid of the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS so more people we willing to come forward for free testing and get care sooner.
“There’s been almost miraculous advances,” said Piedmont Care Board Vice President Melissa Ann Cunningham Sereque. “It’s not a death sentence anymore.”
Read more about Piedmont Care here.