Seven people from Myrtle Beach returned from a trip to our nation's capitol this week, as they join others from across the globe for the International Aids Conference.
South Carolina ranks 8th in the nation in the rate of new aids cases annually, according to the South Carolina HIV/AIDS council. Health officials say poverty and a lack of access to health care are among the reasons South Carolina is near the top of the list of AIDS cases nationally.
Barbara Huggins, Otis Huggins, and Malcolm, who didn't want to disclose his last name, all returned Monday from the trip.
"Everyone needs to be tested for HIV/AIDS. Both young and old," Barbara said.
Barbara married Otis ten years ago. They both got HIV 4 years later.
Malcolm, 57, was diagnosed HIV positive in 1994 when he was living in the Bahamas.
"At my stage when I was diagnosed I was taking 47 pills a day," he said.
He remembers loosing almost everyone to his AIDS diagnosis, at least 50 close friends he said.
"People just dying, I mean just families being wiped right off the face of the earth," he said.
Malcom says he's part of a support group offered at Careteam that help him with being HIV positive and dealing with that everyday. Careteam, a group in Horry County works to help those living with the disease. They say some 1,300 in Horry County are HIV positive, but about a quarter don't know.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the South has half of all the new cases of AIDS, although it has only a third of the nation's population.
The chief of infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina, J. Michael Kilby, says the number of AIDS cases is not a new trend. But Kilby says the public has been slow to recognize the trend.
The AP contributed to this report.