PGN Special Edition Coverage

I hate feeling obligated to be religious because all of my favorite poets mention god when they talk about inspiration. I start wondering if maybe I’d be a better writer if I actually believed in something. It’s not a proven theory — I’ve never given it a try, or found someone who has. And maybe that’s a good thing, actually, because god tends to be associated with people who hate everything I am.

A GSA (gay-straight alliance or gender-sexuality alliance) is a club that focuses on the LGBT community. GSAs can demonstrate this focus in a variety of ways, between discussion topics that focus on queer issues, being actively involved in their school and community, or simply providing a safe space for the members of the LGBT community (and its allies). GSAs can be incredibly important to the development of queer teenagers, and having one in each school can help create a support system that they may not have otherwise had. Being a part of a GSA is not just being a part of a club, it is being a part of a support network, an education system, a group of friends, a family.

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


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