COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- More than 1.1 million people in the united states are living with HIV, according to the CDC.
1 in 7 of those infected with the virus don’t know they have it, which is why the Department of Health and Environmental Control is stressing the importance of getting tested.
World Aids Day is observed on December 1st every year, and this year South Carolina was designated as one of 7 priority states to help end the epidemic.
Monday morning booths were set up in front of the State House to provide resources and education on HIV. It’s part of DHEC’s campaign to “End the Epidemics.”
South Carolina ranks in the top 10 nationally for rate of HIV cases per population and the state’s high rate is one reason the state was selected to participate in the development of a national strategy.
Infectious disease experts with DHEC say prevention and treatment are key steps in addressing the disease. Experts say the sooner you get tested, the better your chances are.
“Now if you have HIV, with the medications we have you’ll live a normal life, it’s not a chronic disease, that’s why it’s important to get tested because if you don’t get tested, it’s like living in the 80s you’re likely to die of the disease,” explained Ali Mansaray, director of STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis with SCDHEC .
As of 2017, close to 20,000 people were living with HIV in South Carolina.