Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, or PALSS, was formed in 1985 to help South Carolinians fight the war against AIDS. The organization offers free services to people diagnosed with or at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and help for their loved ones.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Center for Disease Control says the virus that can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. The human body cannot get rid of HIV the way it does other viruses. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.
The CDC reports there are over 1.1 million people living in the United States with HIV/AIDS and there are over 50,000 new infections per year. South Carolina currently ranks eighth in the nation for infected by the disease.
Event speaker Veronica Brisko has been living with HIV for over 14 years, but wasn't diagnosed until over a year after contracting it.
“Everyone needs to get tested… I didn't think I needed to. I figured… college graduate. Had a good relationship. Just what I thought was a normal life. And I didn't find out I was HIV positive until I was very ill," she says.
Veronica was just one of several speakers and had one goal: to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS and encourage everyone to "know your status."
“One of the messages we want to get out to people is you must know your status. We want people to begin talking about their status so we can start dispelling some of the myths and conceptions about HIV, said PALSS Executive Director Carmen Julious.