Scroll To Top
Health

Washington,
D.C., Tops Statistics in AIDS Cases

Washington,
D.C., Tops Statistics in AIDS Cases

Washington, D.C., health officials report that the rate of HIV infection is the highest of any city in the country. Infants, older adults, women, and heterosexual men are becoming infected at epidemic pace.

Washington, D.C., health officials report that the rate of HIV infection is the highest of any city in the country. Infants, older adults, women, and heterosexual men are becoming infected at epidemic pace.

The New York Times reports that more than 12,400 people in the District of Columbia, about 1 in 50, are living with AIDS or HIV. Black residents are hardest hit, accounting for 81% of new reports of HIV infection and 86% of people with AIDS, though the city's population is only 57% African-American.

The D.C. report also notes that from 2001 to 2006 56 children aged 13 or younger became either HIV-positive or were suffering from AIDS. Nearly all of them were infected at birth, accounting for 6% of all mother-to-child HIV infections in the nation in the last five years. City officials are alarmed by these numbers, as routine HIV testing during pregnancy, quick-result oral swabs during labor, and antiretroviral drugs can prevent transmission during delivery.

In more than 37% of the cases detected from 2001 to 2006, the disease was spread through heterosexual contact, 25% were through homosexual contact, and 13% via IV drug use.

This is the first study of HIV and AIDS statistics in the city; its AIDS prevention office has been faulted for failure to track and fight the disease. Advocates for AIDS patients point to high turnover of the office's directors, with 13 different directors having served during a period of less than 20 years. Shannon Hader, director since October, has announced plans for a more aggressive awareness campaign. Last year the city increased free screening locations and began distributing condoms.

"We are also trying to raise awareness that there are programs in the city where people who are infected can get antiretroviral treatment, even if they do not have insurance and or cannot afford to pay for the treatment," Hader told the Times.

Because of its unique status, the District of Columbia is the only city in the nation whose system of government is controlled by Congress. Washington is also the only city in the country barred by federal law from using local tax money to finance needle exchange programs. For nearly a decade members of the House have inserted language into the bill approving the city's budget to prevent financing of such programs, claiming concern that the programs would lead to higher drug use. (The Advocate)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Matthew Van Atta