Noone hsa more pride than Baltimoreans. There are many things in Charm City that we can be proud of. Did you know that Baltimore is home to the first black-owned shipyard in the United States, now known as the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum. It’s also the home of the first civic monument dedicated to President George Washington, the aptly-named Washington monument. It’s also the originator of snowballs, the forefathers to slushies, which were invented in town during the American Industrial Revolution.

What we should be striving to be proud of is decreasing the infections of HIV, not only in the city of Baltimore, but all over Maryland. According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) there were 1,466 adult/adolescent HIV cases (age 13+) diagnosed in Maryland in 2012. Baltimore City and Prince George’s County had the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses. Also one in 124 males and one in 243 females were living with HIV in Maryland.

Even though HIV has been proven to be a manageable disease, it’s still not an easy burden to carry. These statistics are still alarming, even though compared to the 1980s they are better. Black Gay men/MSM still have a high rate of HIV at 32.2 percent, but it might be to some of your surprises that heterosexuals have the highest rate of 34.4 percent in the state of Maryland.

The point I’m trying to make is that yes, Baltimore does have a lot to be proud of, but would we be prouder Baltimore and the state of Maryland could say, “Our HIV numbers are down to 0.” Take a moment and think about what that might look like. We have preventative resources and I will never give up my hope and my faith that medicine and science will find a cure to HIV and one day we all will be HIV free.

I hate New Year’s Resolutions, but I don’t see why anyone cannot say to themselves, “I would like to make this world a better place.” I have made it my mission to be able to help with the struggle against HIV, all throughout my life. I’ve been in the struggle since 2003, working year after year. Can you find it in your heart to Bmore proud and help Baltimore decrease HIV? Do something as small as giving to a local HIV nonprofit, or helping out with a HIV fundraiser. Every little bit helps.

Get to really know someone who has HIV, embrace them, and accept them for who they are. You can Bmore proud of yourself by knowing that you’ve helped a friend in need whether they know it or not.

Gay Life January 2015

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