HIV has reached critical levels in Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia has just begun a campaign called Freedom Condom. The goal of this campaign is to reduce the infections of HIV and other STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia. According to the City of Philadelphia Department of Health, men who have sex with men in Philadelphia have more than a 40% chance of getting HIV by having unprotected sex. There are an estimated 16,905 people living with HIV or AIDS in Philadelphia.
These statistics are shocking but true. HIV has become the ultimate threat to the gay community, especially for gay African-Americans and Hispanics. There are many reasons why HIV is spreading so rapidly in Philadelphia but one of the main reasons is that there is an increase use of unprotected sex among gay men and ignorant myths about how the virus is transferred. There are many myths that HIV is transferred by hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with someone who is HIV positive. These myths are completely wrong. Before understanding how HIV is spread, understanding what is HIV is most important. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, meaning that the virus can only be transmitted between humans. HIV attacks the body’s immune system by invading and taking over the CD4+ T cells.
Even in this modern age where information is a click away, many people are still ignorant about how the virus is transfer between humans. The virus is transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids including blood, per-semen, semen, vaginal and cervical secretions and breast milk. Many people are still confused about the difference between HIV and AIDS. AIDS is a diagnosis which stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infection. Thanks to modern medicine the risk of HIV evolving to AIDS has slowed down.
Even though there are an estimated 16,905 people living with HIV or AIDs in Philadelphia, this virus can be stopped. All it takes ten to fifteen seconds to put on a condom on. Imagine if everyone in Philadelphia using condoms every time they have sex. The ability to get a condom is easier than ever. If a person needs a condom, all he or she has to do is complete the Freedom Condom form and condoms will be mailed to that person’s house. There are many places where a person can go to get tested for HIV and receive counsel about HIV/AIDS like at the Mazzoni Center, Safeguards or one of the Health Centers of the City of Philadelphia. HIV/AIDS may seem like an endless epidemic but it will come to an end. Until that day comes, always use a condom when having sex.