CHARLESTON, S.C. — Palmetto Community Care is launching a PrEP program to help combat rising rates of HIV in the greater Charleston community. The organization’s goal is to make this program and medication free or low cost for participants.
This program will focus on those most at risk for contracting HIV. 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.
Those interested in learning more about the PrEP program are encouraged to go to the North Charleston office for a free, confidential HIV test and to discuss PrEP with one of Palmetto’s prevention staff members. Optionally, phone screenings are available by calling, 843-747-2273, ext. 218. 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 the program. 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 prevention staff. Qualified participants should be 18 or older, live 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 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. 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.