A new citywide fundraiser is encouraging you to go out, get drunk and fight AIDS.
Philly’s AIDS infection rate is five times the national average, and so in an effort to raise awareness and combat this frightening trend, Bar AIDS Philadelphia will debut Thursday. Participating locations—the Bike Stop, Fergie’s Pub, Knock and Tavern on Camac, to name a few—will donate a percentage of their proceeds of this one-night-only fundraiser to four local nonprofit organizations, including ActionAIDS, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia FIGHT.
Pennsylvania ranks No. 6 in the nation in the number of people reported to be infected with the disease, and the rate of HIV infections has been rapidly increasing in recent years, partly because AIDS no longer means a life sentence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV has increased 15 percent from 2004-2007 in 34 states.
“It has become more manageable to live with AIDS, and that has led more people to ignore the risks,” says Dr. Baligh Yehia, who studies infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “Living with AIDS risks living with a weaker immune system and that’s prone to being infected with other diseases that make it debilitating to live.”
That’s true for Bradley D. Walter, a Scranton native and HIV patient. He says that his antiviral medication is on some days “debilitating,” although due to medical advances, such as Marinol, a synthetic pill form of medical marijuana, he’s been able to ease his medication’s side effects.
“The pills are the only medication I found that allows me to live a normal life,” he says, “and removes most of my side effects,” which include intense stomach pains, extreme hunger and nausea.