Philadelphia Inquirer Examines HIV Transmission Trends in Philadelphia, Throughout Pennsylvania
The Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday examined trends in HIV transmission in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, where more people are contracting the virus through heterosexual sex than injection drug use or homosexual sex. According to statistics from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, 40% of HIV cases reported in 2002 and 2003 were attributable to heterosexual sex, compared with 30% of HIV cases attributable to injection drug use and 23% attributable to homosexual sex. State officials have observed a similar trend, with 34% of HIV cases reported in 2002 transmitted through heterosexual sex, according to the Inquirer. The city health department and the Pennsylvania Department of Health say there are approximately 15,400 HIV-positive people in the state, about half of whom live in Philadelphia. Kevin Burns, client service director of the Philadelphia-based not-for-profit ActionAIDS, said that although the gay population in the city has become more aware of risk factors, stigma associated with homosexuality -- especially in minority communities -- has forced some men to act on the "down low" by having sex with men but not mentioning their male relationships to their female sex partners, friends or family members. David Metzger, director of HIV prevention at the University of Pennsylvania Center for AIDS Research, said, "People are having lots of sex and not using condoms," adding, "They think they're heterosexuals just having fun and they're not in a risk group" (Fallik, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.