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US Officials Urge Testing for HIV as Health Crisis Intensifies

ple, Calhoun County ranks number 37 in the state.

"Getting people tested is the first step in linking infected people to appropriate care, treatment and prevention services," said Lynda Kettinger, director of DHEC's STD/HIV Division. "This year's theme, 'Take The Test, Take Control,' encourages people at high risk for HIV to learn their status and gain access to the most appropriate system of care if they are infected."

Bonnie Fogle, an HIV program nurse and case manager at the Orangeburg County Health Department, said the largest percent of cases were in adults 40 years of age or older.

"But ... we are seeing an increase in numbers from those age 18 to 25, the younger group," she said. "What happens is a lot of times those people that are 40 and over do not get tested. Then they get sick, and we learn that they're positive."

Fogle said the Orangeburg County Health Department will offer free rapid HIV tests that produce results in less than a half-hour instead of the usual week or two.

"That's the 20-minute finger-stick blood test," she said, noting that traditional intravenous needle testing will also be available at the health department. The traditional blood tests will be offered at health departments in Bamberg and Calhoun counties as well.

South Carolina reported a total of 21,010 HIV cases, which includes a total number of AIDS cases, from Jan. 1, 1981, through Dec. 31, 2005.

A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that health care providers in South Carolina missed opportunities to diagnose people with HIV when they were seen in health care settings for other medical conditions.

Fogle said some progress has been made. The number of prenatally acquired HIV cases, for example, has decreased from 1999 to 2006.

Minority AIDS Council president Shirley James said the council believes everyone ove
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