HIV prevention honored

    Cutting edge therapies forge ahead, while award honors basic prevention efforts.

    As the HIV epidemic continues to take a terrible toll on the African American community, a local leader is being honored for his efforts to prevent the disease’s spread.

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    Just this week, scientists in Germany announced they were able to cure a man of HIV using mutant immune cells and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative opened a new facility devoted to vaccine development. Meanwhile, local workers on the ground are trying to make a difference in Philadelphia. At its annual party Saturday night, the Attic Youth Center, which serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, will honor Lee Carson for his prevention efforts among gay black men. Carson, a research associate at Public Health Management Corporation and a therapist at the Mazzoni Center, says there are challenges to stopping HIV’s spread not even a vaccine could cure.

    Carson: I certainly think that one of the things that we need to be doing is widening the lens as to what we’re looking at with HIV prevention. We need to really look at structural issues, like poverty, racism, impact of homophobia and heterosexism, mental health. There are a lot of other things that we really need to be addressing to look at a more holistic picture of prevention.

    The city’s latest statistics show HIV AIDS diagnoses exceeded 1,000 in 2006.

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