D.C. Clinic
Registers 232% Rise in HIV Cases

An unusually high
increase in the number of clients testing positive for
HIV at the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., has
officials alarmed, according to the Washington
. The clinic reported that the total number
of clients being tested has not changed drastically,
yet the number of clients who are testing positive for
HIV has jumped by 232% in the past year.

Out of the
roughly 6,500 clients tested at the Whitman-Walker Clinic,
266 have tested positive for HIV so far in 2008. By
this time in 2007, only 80 clients had tested
positive. Clinic officials, including Dr. Raymond
Martins, Whitman-Walker's chief medical officer, are
concerned about the results and are working on a plan
of action.

“These are
troubling statistics that warrant more aggressive education,
prevention, and testing initiatives,” said Martins.

One such effort
to investigate the reason for the rising number of
infected clients was a focus group series directed by the
clinic. The clinic interviewed various D.C. residents
who fit into the demographic groups most often
affected by HIV, including African-American
heterosexuals, young gay men, and gay men of color.

According to the
results of the study, there was one "surprising theme"
among the groups -- "even though everyone recognized HIV
was a serious issue, every group identified HIV as really
being a problem for another demographic group,”
the statement says. “This is of great concern
because the highest-risk groups do not identify themselves
as being high-risk and thus increase their
susceptibility to HIV through unsafe behavior and a
lack of knowledge.”

Recent research
by the CDC shows that, despite long-touted
estimates that a total of 40,000 people in the United
States each year are newly infected with HIV, the
actual number of yearly infections since the early
2000s has been closer to 56,500. (The Advocate)

Tags: Health, Health