Lowcountry AIDS Services received a grant to help expand its services, such as HIV testing.

Grant shores up ASO efforts

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Lowcountry AIDS Services (LAS) announced that it has received a $35,400 grant from the Roper Saint Francis Physicians Endowment and will use the funds to expand HIV testing and prevention efforts into rural areas of Berkeley and Dorchester Counties, as well as into high-risk areas of Charleston.

In a partnership between the Medical Society of South Carolina and Coastal Community Foundation, the endowment provides annual grants to non-profit organizations for the express purpose of improving health, wellness and access for tri-county area residents.

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. Additionally, IV drug use, especially with opioids, has been increasing nationwide, with rural areas hardest hit and adding risk for further HIV infections, LAS said.

LAS added that program expansion provided by this grant will allow LAS to go beyond performing free testing for HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections at its office in North Charleston four days a week. LAS expects to reach an additional 20 percent by hosting testing events and programs in areas outside its office — that equates to about 240 or more additional individuals who will be tested and more than 1,000 people will receive educational materials and safer-sex materials to help decrease potential for HIV and STI infections. All newly diagnosed HIV-positive individuals identified through expanded testing will be linked to medical care within 30 days.

“In 2015, our agency identified 33 percent of the new HIV infections from the entire statewide pool of those found by community based organizations, even though we only cover about 15 percent of the state population within our service area,” said Bradley Childs, LAS executive director. “We know the need is great in our community and we have to expand our outreach efforts. We are grateful to the Roper Saint Francis Physicians Endowment for this funding so we can continue to help even more individuals and connect them to medical care.”

info: aids-services.com.

Elder men’s group forms

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The first meeting of the newly-formed Prime Timers of Charleston will be held on Feb. 5, 2 p.m., at the Charleston County Library, 68 Calhoun St.

The group is specifically for men who are over 40 years of age, be they single or coupled, who want to meet in an informal setting for social interaction and camaraderie.

Prime Timers of Columbia will be in attendance and will provide guidance on how to best maximize the group’s resources and members for a more successful experience.

info: bit.ly/2iRpmSW.

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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-launch2.newspackstaging.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 LGBT 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 LGBT rights, as well as offer resources for those who may be interested in what your group is doing.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.