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U.S. News

South Carolina: A Cure for the Stigma -- Medicines Have Advanced, But Stigma Is Biggest Challenge in HIV/AIDS Battle

September 14, 2009

In South Carolina, whose AIDS case rate ranks eighth among US states, stigma remains a major obstacle to HIV prevention and treatment efforts.

In 2007, the state health department reported 742 AIDS cases for a rate of nearly 17 per 100,000 people. Yet, South Carolinians are often reluctant to talk about the disease. Dr. David Potts, an infectious-disease specialist, said many people want neither to talk about HIV/AIDS nor to get tested. "The places where the disease and sex is talked about, people are at a lower risk for contracting HIV," he said. "In the Southeast, we don't talk about sex, so we don't talk about the disease."

"We have wonderful drugs now keeping people, keeping those diagnosed, healthy," said Potts. "It was a disease of the gay white male. Now it's a disease of poverty, color, and ignorance."

"One of the oppressing things is still the stigma," said Andy Hall, director of AID Upstate. "People will choose to die rather than admit they have HIV or go to the doctor and be tested."

To encourage more routine testing, the state health department is providing HIV tests in emergency departments in Charleston, Greenville, Orangeburg, and Sumter, said Tony Price, prevention program manager with the department's STD/HIV division.

Back to other news for September 2009

Adapted from:
Anderson Independent Mail
08.29.2009; Charmaine Smith-Miles

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma & Discrimination
What Does HIV/AIDS Stigma Look Like in Your Life?
More on Stigma and HIV/AIDS