November, 2014: HIV Infrastructure Study: Columbia, SC , Susan S. Reif, Elena Wilson, & Carolyn McAllaster.
The latest SASI Infrastructure Study, HIV Infrastructure Study: Columbia, SC , was released at the annual South Carolina HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Conference in Columbia, SC.
Columbia is the largest city and the capital of South Carolina.
According to the Report and despite the fact that South Carolina has a robust AIDS Drug Assistance Program that pays for medications for uninsured HIV+ persons earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level AND reimburses for insurance premiums, copays, and deductibles for insured HIV+ persons earning up to 550% of the federal poverty level,
- 36% of persons living with HIV/AIDS in South Carolina were not in care. (2013 HIV Epidemiological Profile of South Carolina)
- Columbia had the 10th highest death rates for HIV+ men and women in the United States in 2011.
- In 2011, Columbia ranked 7th in the country in HIV diagnoses among 13-24 year old males.
The Report identifies the following as some of the barriers to HIV Care & Prevention in Columbia:
- Lack of transportation
- Pervasive Stigma
- Few trained HIV medical providers in the more remotes areas of the Columbia Metropolitan Area
- Lack of political will
- Inadequate funding for prevention.
Some suggested strategies identified in the Report for addressing the HIV epidemic in Columbia include:
- Establishment of a telemedicine program to address lack of transportation and medical care in more remote areas;
- Co-location of HIV care with other services to combat stigma;’
- Increased educational efforts for PLWHA, health care professionals, churches, and community to address stigma.