South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that a new Florence County program has been established to meet the needs of sexual assault victims who may have been exposed to HIV. South Carolina remains at the forefront of the nation in offering a program that prevents sexual assault victims from contracting HIV, and that program is now expanding to its fifth location in the state. McLeod Regional Medical Center, HopeHealth, Inc., and Pee Dee Coalition in Florence County will provide HIV nPEP treatment and follow-up care to victims of sexual assault when they are found to be at risk for contracting HIV from the sexual assault. This treatment is offered at no cost to the victim.
Attorney General Wilson and the Department of Crime Victim Compensation are partnering with McLeod Regional Medical Center, HopeHealth, Inc., and Pee Dee Coalition in Florence County to expand the program.
“Imagine the horror of already being a victim of sexual assault and then having to worry about whether you might have contracted a deadly disease because of that assault,” Attorney General Wilson said. “This program provides life-saving treatment to prevent that, which keeps survivors from being further victimized.”
Florence County is the fifth HIV nPEP (non-occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) and follow-up treatment program for crime victims of sexual assault in the state. South Carolina was the first state in the country to offer this level of service to victims of sexual assault who are found to be at risk for contracting HIV.
non-occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis – nPEP Program
What is nPEP? It is medication that can prevent HIV transmission after a sexual assault victim has been exposed to HIV. It means the victim must take antiretroviral medicine after a potential exposure to HIV to prevent becoming infected. This medication must be started within 72 hours (3 days) of the exposure and must be taken for 28 days. The 28-day medication regimen can cost as much as $3,000 per victim, and the expense increases with follow-up treatment; but this new program is FREE to sexual assault victims who meet the criteria below.
Individuals qualify if:
- They are a victim of sexual assault and meet the CDC criteria for exposure to HIV
- The sexual assault happened in South Carolina
- The sexual assault occurred within 72 hours of the initial visit to the Emergency Department or Immunology /Infectious Disease Clinic
Both Sexual Assault and HIV can result in life-altering consequences; Awareness and Prevention warrants a call to action for the victim.
The Attorney General’s Office Department of Crime Victim Compensation has also forged partnerships in Charleston, Richland, Lexington, Sumter, Kershaw, Horry, and Spartanburg counties to assist victims of sexual assault and is expected to bring this level of service to other areas of the state.