Record number of new HIV cases identified in Lowcountry last year

Lowcountry Aids Services in North Charleston administers HIV tests, such as the one pictured here, for free. File

In 2015, Lowcountry AIDS Services administered 39 HIV-positive tests — nearly twice as many positive tests as the group administered in 2014.

Across South Carolina last year, community-based organizations identified 118 new HIV cases, according to the state health department. One-third of those HIV-positive patients live in Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley counties.

“This statistic is both shocking and highly illustrative of the importance of our continued work here in the Lowcountry to help those affected by HIV/AIDS and fight to reduce new cases in our community,” said Bradley Childs, executive director of Lowcountry AIDS Services, in a news release about the data.

In South Carolina, more than 8,000 people are living with AIDS and more than 16,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV — the virus that may lead to AIDS.

Most of the 39 new HIV-positive patients in the Lowcountry were young black men. Last year, 46 percent of all new HIV patients were 13 to 29 years old.

Lowcountry AIDS Services, located at 3547 Meeting Street Road, offers free HIV testing.

For more information about the group or to purchase a $100 Red Ribbon Mega Raffle ticket for its fundraiser, visit www.aids-services.com or call 843-747-2273.

The top prize for the raffle drawing on May 20 is $20,000 cash.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.