Last Thursday, Akia Feggans from Philadelphia Fight, an organization offering comprehensive services for people who are high-risk or have HIV, AIDS and addiction. The intersection of these two diseases isn’t something I had considered before, and 0ne of the most interesting things Feggans said during her visit was that HIV is commonly a symptom of drug use. People who make high-risk decisions, like doing drugs, will likely choose to do other “dangerous” things like sharing needles or having unprotected sex, she said.
A lot of parallels were also drawn between the treatment of HIV and addiction. Feggans stressed the importance of clients having a safe space to talk about stigmatized issues with people who understand what they have been through. The other was that allocation of resources is essential in fighting any disease.
Two years ago, Fight became a federally-funded center, which allowed them to broaden their resources. But there still isn’t enough comprehensive care available, Feggans said.
“We operate like a third-world country, but we are a plethora of wealth, intelligence and resources,” she said.
With that statement, Feggans summed up a lot of what we’ve heard during class. To fight opioid, there needs to be an upheaval of public policy and opinion about treatment and stigma for addiction. And the media has an immense impact on this—including a room 20 college students on Temple’s campus.