Washington Times Columnist Examines AIDS Epidemic in Nation’s Capital
While there is "tireless resolve" to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic, "there's a neglected HIV/AIDS epidemic" in Washington, D.C., Washington Times columnist Adrienne Washington writes. The nation's capital has the "dubious distinction" of having an AIDS rate that is 12 times higher than any other place in the country, as one in 20 adults in Washington, D.C., is HIV-positive, Washington notes. AIDS-related illnesses are the third leading cause of death for city residents ages 30 to 44, and city officials estimate that 40% of HIV-positive residents are injection drug users. Despite the problem, the House of Representatives has blocked the city from using local funds "for programs such as a needle exchange designed to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS," she writes. The House has kept language in the city's appropriations bill barring the use of funds for such programs, and "it is not clear whether the issue will be revisited," Washington says, noting that the CDC, NIH, the American Medical Association and other researchers have expressed support for needle-exchange programs. "We can turn a blind eye and act as if there is no correlation between intravenous drug use and HIV infection," she writes, adding, "Or we can attempt to attack the spread of this disease through various life-saving measures, such as needle exchanges, while we figure out how to provide addicts with real resources that will help them kick their habits." Washington concludes that "folks need to get beyond their judgmental attitudes, learn the facts and get busy helping to arrest this disease, which is not only a worldwide pandemic, but an epidemic in their own back yards" (Washington, Washington Times, 9/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.