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South Carolina: LAS creates new identity

Carolinas News Notes

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Lowcountry AIDS Services has rebranded itself and is now known as Palmetto Community Care. The new name and logo were unveiled at a celebration on May 3.

The change was prompted by the agency’s desire to keep pace with the evolving HIV and AIDS epidemic, the organization shared. Those diagnosed with HIV are now able to live full, productive lives with proper medical care and support. Now, fewer people are progressing from HIV to an AIDS diagnosis.

The name change process began over a year ago and involved feedback from focus groups. With a more encompassing brand, the 25-year-old agency is now poised to provide continued service to those living with HIV in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties.

The stigma facing people living with HIV is a very real concern for AIDS services organizations. Removing “AIDS” from the organization’s name not only recognizes that fewer people are progressing to an AIDS diagnosis, but it also eliminates some of the stigma felt by those using the organization’s services.

“We know the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS is very real, so changing the name of our organization is one small way we can combat that stigma and help our clients and the community as a whole,” said Jason Kirk, director of development and marketing.

Palmetto Community Care also has expanded its services and outreach each year, particularly in the areas of prevention and education. Earlier this year, the organization announced it was adding a mobile testing van to its prevention toolkit. This new initiative, aimed at reaching rural and high-needs communities, was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation. For information on how to schedule a stop with the mobile testing van, contact Adam Weaver, prevention manager, at 843-747-2273.

In January 2018, the organization recorded the most positive HIV tests in its history. Of those who came in for a free HIV test in January, seven tested positive for HIV. Underscoring the issue that HIV is disproportionately impacting youth, all seven of those people were under the age of 30. In all of 2017, 20 people tested positive for HIV. The agency tests an average of 1,600 people annually.

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 is needed.

info: palmettocommunitycare.org.

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Does your organization or special interest group have events or great information to share with our readers? If so, be sure to send in your information to specialassignments@goqnotes.com. In the upcoming months, we’ll feature one of you in our news notes section in each issue. Are you a part of a Meetup, Yahoo or Google group and do you do something that’s really newsworthy? Do you provide a service for the community or hold fundraisers for worthy causes? Do you educate the public about LGBTQ issues or concerns? Of course, this is only a sampling of things we are interested in. It’s the aim of these pieces to inform, enlighten and educate our readers about what we’re doing here in the Carolinas to champion LGBTQ rights, as well as offer resources for those who may be interested in what your group is doing.

Posted by Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at specialassignments@goqnotes.com and 704-531-9988, x205.

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