To keep pace with the evolving HIV and AIDS epidemic, Lowcountry AIDS Services has rebranded to Palmetto Community Care. The North Charleston-based nonprofit unveiled its new name and logo at a small celebration on May 3.
Over the last several years, the HIV and AIDS epidemic has changed. People diagnosed with HIV can go on to live full, productive lives with proper medical care and support. Fewer people are progressing from HIV to an AIDS diagnosis. To keep pace with those changes and better reflect the current state of the epidemic Lowcountry AIDS Services decided it was time to rebrand.
The organization began the process almost a year ago, conducting focus groups and research on potential new names. Gathering feedback from clients, supporters, staff and board members, the team decided on Palmetto Community Care – a way to capture the community aspect of the organization with an added emphasis on the caring nature of the organization as it helps people through some of their most trying times.
“For more than 25 years our agency has been giving our clients purpose, hope and a path forward. We help them see that a HIV diagnosis isn’t the end and that with proper medical care and support they can live a full life,” said Bradley Childs, executive director. “That aspect of our organization won’t change. We will continue to provide the same excellent care and the breadth of services to people living with HIV in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.”
In addition, the stigma facing people living with HIV is a very real concern for AIDS services organizations. Removing “AIDS” from the organization’s name not only recognizes that fewer people are progressing to an AIDS diagnosis, but it also eliminates some of the stigma felt by those using the organization’s services.
“We know the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS is very real, so changing the name of our organization is one small way we can combat that stigma and help our clients and the community as a whole,” said Jason Kirk, director of development and marketing.
Palmetto Community Care also has expanded its services and outreach each year, particularly in the areas of prevention and education. Earlier this year, the organization announced it was adding a mobile testing van to its prevention toolkit. This new initiative – aimed at reaching rural and high-needs communities – was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The mobile testing van will be on the road this month, allowing the organization to further its efforts of expanded testing, outreach and HIV prevention education to rural areas of Dorchester and Berkeley counties as well as targeted high-risk communities in Charleston County. For information on how to schedule a stop with the mobile testing van, contact Adam Weaver, prevention manager, at 843-747-2273.
“Even though the perception is that the HIV epidemic is over, we see daily that is just not the case,” Kirk said. “Thanks to medical advances, people diagnosed with HIV can go on to live full, productive lives. Yet, at the same time, not everyone has equal access to medical care and those life-saving medications. That’s where our organization steps in – helping those clients who are most vulnerable to get the help they need.”
In January 2018, the organization recorded the most positive HIV tests in its history. Of those who came in for a free HIV test in January, seven tested positive for HIV. Underscoring the issue that HIV is disproportionately impacting youth, all seven of those people were under the age of 30. In all of 2017, 20 people tested positive for HIV at Lowcountry AIDS Services. The agency tests an average of 1,600 people annually.
For more information, visit palmettocommunitycare.org.