PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia health officials testified today that HIV and AIDS remain pervasive problems in the city, particularly among lower income families.

City Council looked at the issue today, and the committee hearing included testimony from 17-year old Kim, who spoke by phone to preserve her anonymity.  She contracted AIDS at birth from her now-deceased mother, and said she faces the stigma of AIDS daily:

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“It hurts at times, it really does.  And I think that I shouldn’t be judged by what’s in my blood.”

She said she now lives with a foster family:

“…that loves and cares for me very very much, and I don’t know what I would do without them.”

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Health commissioner Dr. Donald Schwarz testified that more than 19,000 Philadelphians, about 1½ percent of the population, have HIV or AIDS:

“Lack of awareness of HIV status and stigma put too many poor Philadelphians, including many African-Americans, at higher risk.”

And Schwarz repeatedly stressed that the key to HIV prevention is relatively simple — everyone, he said, should get tested regularly.

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Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau Chief Mike Dunn.
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