Letters to the editor

Dear Editor:

Today, Feb. 7 marks the 12th year of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and it is an especially important moment in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health reports that African- Americans in the city have been disproportionately effected, comprising nearly 66 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. In addition, two-thirds of Philadelphia residents currently living with AIDS are African-Americans.

Currently there are 20,000 Philadelphians that have been diagnosed, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that one in five people living with HIV/AIDS doesn’t know they are infected. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is the time to get educated about the reality and risks of HIV/AIDS. It is also the time to get tested for HIV because testing is the only way to know if you are infected.

HIV infection does not show symptoms for many years. It can seem like an intimidating experience, but HIV testers are professionals that welcome everyone, and answer any questions that you may have. Best of all, it’s easy to find free HIV testing in Philadelphia.

ActionAIDS, the largest HIV service provider in Pennsylvania, regularly offers free rapid HIV testing during walk-in hours Monday through Thursday, or by appointment.  Rapid testing takes 20 minutes, and during that time a counselor will explain the process, and how you can reduce your risk to HIV. HIV testing is a free service, and can bring you peace of mind. ActionAIDS recommends that you get tested every six months.

To mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, ActionAIDS is extending free rapid HIV testing hours at 1026 Arch St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and offering testing at 39th and Filbert streets from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For regular testing times visit ActionAIDS.org or call 215-940-5515 to set up an appointment.

Take action today. Get educated. Get tested. Stay safe.


Justin Gero


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