Over the next 12 months, Lowcountry AIDS Services (LAS) in North Charleston will expand its HIV testing and prevention efforts into rural areas of Berkeley and Dorchester counties and 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.
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.
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.