Palmetto Community Care Rolls Out PrEP Program to Further Combat Area’s Rising HIV Rates

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CHARLESTON, S.C. –? Palmetto Community Care is launching a PrEP program to help combat rising rates of HIV in the greater Charleston community. PrEP is a once daily pill (brand name Truvada) that is up to 99 percent effective in reducing HIV rates for those who take the medication as prescribed. Palmetto Community Care’s goal is to make this program and medication free or low cost for participants.

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This PrEP program will focus upon those most at risk for contracting HIV within the community. Ideal candidates include individuals who are sexually active, have multiple sexual partners, have sexual partners of unknown HIV status and individuals who are 18 years of age or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of people who could potentially benefit from PrEP are African American or Latino.
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“We want everyone at risk for HIV to talk to us about PrEP and look into whether it is the right choice for them,” said Adam Weaver, prevention program manager at Palmetto Community Care. “We want everyone in our community to know that PrEP is available and often a great option for HIV prevention. We need to stop the rising HIV rates in our community, especially for our young men of color, and PrEP can be a part of the solution.”
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Those interested in learning more about Palmetto Community Care’s PrEP program are advised to come into the North Charleston office for a free, confidential HIV test and to discuss PrEP with one of our prevention staff members. Or call 843-747-2273, ext. 218 to participate in a quick phone screening.?
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Health insurance is a definite benefit and help for participation, but the program will include services and inclusion for uninsured who qualify. While Palmetto Community Care cannot guarantee that all uninsured PrEP program clients will be eligible, the goal is to find a way for as many people as possible to participate in this life-saving program.?
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Participants will be required to complete quarterly lab blood work (free or reduced cost for participants), meet with a doctor quarterly and participate in continued adherence counseling with Palmetto Community Care prevention staff.
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“While PrEP is up to 99 percent effective at reducing HIV when taken as prescribed, we know that adherence will be key,” Weaver said. “PrEP is most effective when paired with other prevention tools, like condoms. Additionally, PrEP will not protect you from other STIs like syphilis or gonorrhea.”
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Palmetto Community Care has steadily been expanding its education and prevention programs to combat the rising HIV rates in the Charleston. This year, the organization rolled out its mobile HIV testing van for use at community events, businesses, health fairs and more.?
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“We are excited to launch our PrEP program for the greater Charleston community and add this important tool to our ever-expanding options in our continued fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Bradley Childs, executive director. “This is another important new chapter for our organization, and we want the entire community to know this program will help further reduce HIV rates.”
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Participants should be 18 or older, living in Charleston, Berkeley or Dorchester counties and be at high risk for potentially contracting HIV. The program will launch with both an on-site medical provider and, through a partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina, offer a new telemedicine meeting option that allows for medical appointments through a video chat app or computer video meeting.?This will greatly reduce time and effort for quarterly medical appointments.
Medications are mailed to individuals at their homes in nondescript packaging or, for increased privacy, medication can be shipped to the Palmetto Community Care office and picked up during normal business hours.
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“We want our PrEP program participants to know that we are committed to providing this program for free or at very low cost and that we will be partners in success with navigation services that cover prescriptions, insurance and help individuals to participate with easy and affordable access. We are working toward a program that will be completely free and self-sustaining for all participants,” Childs said.
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Palmetto Community Care offices are open for HIV testing and PrEP consultations Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with extended hours Wednesdays until 6 p.m.
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About Palmetto Community Care | Complete compassionate HIV care + prevention education awareness
Palmetto Community Care has been helping those living with HIV for more than 25 years. It all started with a belief that no one living with HIV or AIDS should go without medical care, everyday resources or emotional support. We believe our continued commitment to our work here in the Lowcountry will help bring an end to the HIV epidemic through increased HIV testing, prevention and education. Free, confidential HIV/STI testing: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and until 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. No appointment needed. For more information, visit palmettocommunitycare.org.?
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Palmetto Community Care on social media
Twitter / Instagram: @PalmettoCare

Bring the Palmetto Community Care Mobile HIV Testing Van to Your Event and Win A Chance to See Beyonce

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Mobile HIV Testing Van on the Move

This summer, Palmetto Community Care?is hitting the road with its new mobile testing van, making it easier than ever for Charleston area residents to get a free, confidential HIV test. Read more about this initiative.

Regularly scheduled stops for the Palmetto Community Care mobile testing van are:

  • Last Thursday of the month from 9 p.m. to midnight at Dudley’s on Ann, 42 Ann St., Charleston
  • First and third Tuesday of the month from 1-5 p.m. at One80 Place, 35 Walnut St., Charleston

For information on how to schedule a stop with the mobile testing van, contact Prevention Manager Adam Weaver. There is no charge to have the van at a business, health fair or community center.

Win a Chance to see Jay-Z and Beyoncé

Get a free, confidential HIV test with Palmetto Community Care for a chance to win two tickets plus a parking pass for the Jay-Z and Beyoncé On the Run II Tour in Columbia. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Anyone who gets tested between June 4 and June 28 will be entered into the drawing for the concert tickets. The winner will be randomly drawn and notified on June 29.

Lowcountry AIDS Services Receives Grant to Expand HIV Testing, Education Program in Rural, High-Risk Communities

Media Release: NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Over the next 12 months, Lowcountry AIDS
Services will be expanding its HIV testing and prevention efforts into
rural areas of Berkeley and Dorchester counties as well as into
high-risk areas of Charleston. To help fund the program, LAS has
received a $35,400 grant from the Roper Saint Francis Physicians
Endowment.

In a partnership between the Medical Society of South Carolina and
Coastal Community Foundation, the endowment provides annual grants to
nonprofit organizations for the express purpose of improving health,
wellness and access for tri-county area residents. The grants committee
focuses on four community health needs, including access to services and
coverage for uninsured and underinsured. The committee also gives
priority to emerging needs in the community.

Lowcountry AIDS Services’ expansion highlights both of those areas.
The Charleston region has been identified by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention as an “emerging community” for its high rate
of HIV infections and AIDS cases. LAS identified a significant increase
in new HIV infections in 2015 with an almost 200 percent year-over-year
infection rate. Additionally, IV drug use, especially with opioids, has
been increasing nationwide, with rural areas hardest hit and adding risk
for further HIV infections.

HIV testing in rural communities helps LAS reach audiences that are
rarely offered HIV tests through their medical interactions and allow
for dissemination of educational information to help rural residents
make more informed decisions related to their sexual health.
Additionally, targeted, high-risk populations need increased
opportunities for access to testing and educational programming in
communities with reduced access to healthcare, lower income and higher
prevalence, such as jails and homeless shelters.

The funding provided by the Roper Saint Francis Physicians Endowment
will complement and expand LAS’ existing testing, outreach and HIV
prevention education which is funded through Trident United Way, the
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and private donors.

Program expansion provided by this grant will allow LAS to go beyond
performing free testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted
infections at its office in North Charleston four days a week. LAS
expects to reach an additional 20 percent by hosting testing events and
programs in areas outside its office – that equates to about 240 or
more additional individuals who will be tested and more than 1,000
people will receive educational materials and safer-sex materials to
help decrease potential for HIV and STI infections. All newly diagnosed
HIV-positive individuals identified through expanded testing will be
linked to medical care within 30 days.

LAS will add a part-time testing and prevention specialist to perform
off-site testing and prevention services two to three times per week.
These testing events will focus on partnerships with more than 20 rural
health clinics, in-community health providers, wellness clinics and
commercial pharmacies.

“In 2015, our agency identified 33 percent of the new HIV infections
from the entire statewide pool of those found by community based
organizations, even though we only cover about 15 percent of the state
population within our service area,” said Bradley Childs, LAS
executive director. “We know the need is great in our community and we
have to expand our outreach efforts. We are grateful to the Roper Saint
Francis Physicians Endowment for this funding so we can continue to help
even more individuals and connect them to medical care.”

About Lowcountry AIDS Services
Lowcountry AIDS Services is nonprofit organization serving men, women
and children living with HIV/AIDS in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester
counties. LAS provides case management, access to medical care, housing
assistance, financial assistance, nutritional assistance and legal
assistance along with an array of other supportive services to hundreds
in the Charleston area. LAS also works to prevent this epidemic through
education, media campaigns, community outreach and free, daily HIV/STD
testing. For more information, visit aids-services.com .

Lowcountry AIDS Services on Social Media

Facebook: facebook.com/LowcountryAIDSServices
Twitter / Instagram: @LowcountryAIDS