By: Miranda Parnell
"A lot of efforts are going to Africa...and that's good. But we have our own Africa going on right here."
That's what Dr. Jacob White, Deputy Director of the South Carolina HIV and AIDS Council says one of his counterparts always points out.
The Kaiser Family Foundation ranked Columbia 10th in the nation for the percentage of new AIDS cases reported annually in 2011.
Dr. White says the rate of new infections in African Americans is higher than that among whites.
A 2010 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed "the rate of new HIV infections per 100,000 among Black adults/adolescents (68.9) was nearly 8 times that of whites (8.7)."
But HIV is not the death sentence that it once was.
Brandon Allen says he has been living with the virus for almost 2 years after getting it from the person he was dating.
He was just 22 years old.
Allen, who now works at the South Carolina HIV and AIDS Council as a Community Health Specialist, says when he got the diagnosis the feeling was indescribable.
"I didn't even know how to act. So I can't put it in words. When I first figured it out, it was more so like a state of shock."
But now, Allen says that the virus has little affect on him.
"I come to work, do my job, party...have fun!"
The South Carolina HIV and AIDS Council offers testing services Monday through Thursday.