PGN Special Edition Coverage

I am an HIV-positive gay man with a manageable illness. A year ago at an AIDS Law Project fundraiser, I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Luis Montaner, a leading HIV scientist at The Wistar Institute. Through Dr. Montaner, I learned about BEAT-HIV (, and an important new study looking for clinical study participants — an interesting possibility I had not considered before.

Over the course of the past three-and-a-half decades, we have seen dramatic changes in the AIDS epidemic. For many individuals, advances in treatment and care have made HIV a manageable chronic condition. Unfortunately, though, for too many people living with HIV, poverty or a financial crisis can make obtaining care and maintaining their health almost impossible.

Philadelphia FIGHT has been on the forefront of prescribing Truvada® for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) since FDA approval in 2012. The Y-HEP Health Center on Locust Street started Monday PrEP nights with the support of Dr. Helen Koenig (medical director of PrEP programs across Philadelphia FIGHT), and kept the clinic open until 9 p.m. so Philly’s youth could drop in and see a health-care provider.

Throughout the years, traditional medicines, alternative treatments and newly developed HIV drugs and therapies have helped so many people living with HIV/AIDS. What was once a fatal illness has now become more of a chronic condition, allowing individuals to live extended lives and to make plans to do things they never thought possible. The Buddy Program of Action Wellness, now in its 31st year, has played a part in helping individuals living with HIV/AIDS to achieve a certain level of wellness. In fact, Action Wellness (formerly ActionAIDS) now offers its services to those in need who experience any chronic illness.


World AIDS Day is an important day at Mazzoni Center — not just because we go from neighborhood to neighborhood throughout Philadelphia to offer free HIV testing via our mobile testing unit. It is also a day on which we take time to reflect on the losses that HIV/AIDS dealt to the LGBTQ community and highlight the amazing work that we do to fight against the disease.

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