State Expands Program to Help Sexual Assault Victims Who May Have Been Exposed to HIV

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Monday, April 15th, 2019

A new Horry County program has been established to meet the needs of sexual assault victims who may have been exposed to HIV. South Carolina is in the forefront of the nationto offer a program that prevents sexual assault victims from contracting HIV, and that program is now expanding to its third location in the state. The Careteam Plus Family Health & Specialty Care Facility in Horry 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. The treatment is offered at no cost to the victim.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and The Department of Crime Victim Compensation are partnering with the Careteam Plus Family Health & Specialty Care, Avita Pharmacy, LabCorp and the Rape Crisis Center in Horry 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.”

Horry County is the 3rd HIV nPEP (non-Occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) and follow-up treatment program for crime victims of sexual assault in the state.  South Carolina is 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 (2 types of pills) that can prevent HIV transmission after a sexual assault victim has been exposed to HIV.  It means the victim must take antiretroviral medicines after being potentially exposed 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 Room or to Careteam Plus

Both Sexual Assault and HIV can result in life-altering consequences; Awareness and Prevention warrants a call to action for the victim.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month;

April 7-13, 2019 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week!

The Attorney General’s Office, Department of Crime Victim Compensation has also forged partnerships in Charleston and Richland Counties to assist victims of sexual assault and is expected to bring this level of service to other areas of the state.