PGN Special Edition Coverage

In February 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report where they projected that one in two black men who have sex with men (MSM) and one in four Latino MSM would be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. In Philadelphia, estimates suggest that 32 percent of black and 19 percent of Latino MSM have HIV. This is not far from the CDC estimate. Additionally, a CDC Issue Brief in September 2016 stated that transgender people, particularly transgender women, are vulnerable to HIV infection. Available evidence suggests that, in relation to their population size, transgender women are among the most heavily affected populations in the United States. So how do we approach prevention in a new way that can change the path of the CDC’s projections?

Thirty-five years after the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we have extremely effective treatments enabling people with HIV/AIDS to live a normal life. Yet, the absence of a cure for HIV after antiretroviral therapy (ART) creates multiple burdens for infected individuals such as access to life-long therapy, stigma and, increasingly, criminalization. In addition, there are challenges with continued new infections and the rising costs of health care and global resources like UNAIDS, AIDS orphans and the Global Fund are challenged with the effects of a declining economy on countries and regions hit especially hard by the epidemic. All of this has led to a focused national investment to seek new strategies to achieve a cure and/or stable remission after HIV infection.

Albert Einstein Medical Center

Immunodeficiency Center

Einstein Healthcare Network

5501 Old York Road, Paley 1

Phila., PA 19141

215-456-3465

Imagine being 24 years old again, old enough to fully live and young enough not to care. Remember what it was like the first time you fell in love — not puppy love that usually disappears after high school, but real love. Love that makes your stomach flutter and your hands moist when you’re around that person, your eyes wander because you become fascinated with this being in front of you, secure in knowing that all your love and efforts in creating a healthy, functioning relationship are reciprocated to the fullest ability. Now imagine being that person’s lover: basking in the glory of sweet, sweet tangerines mixed with cinnamon, honey, whipped crème and vodka because as we all know, love is hard. However, the beauty within you two is that you make it work: love. Love is enough. Picture the two of you holding hands out by the beach, relaxing with the sand in your toes and the wind in your hair. You lean into your sweetheart, two ice-cold tall glasses of champagne — topped with HIV; would you like one? 

Mazzoni Center was the first AIDS service organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the fourth in the United States. Our agency was founded as a small, grassroots, all-volunteer clinic in 1979, a few short years before the first cases of HIV/AIDS began to appear in Philadelphia and around the country. This means that we’ve had a long perspective on AIDS not simply as a medical condition, but as something that may also impact a person’s social, emotional and economic well-being. Our continuum of care has evolved to support in these various needs, including food, housing, mental health and case management, along with quality medical care.

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