Women Account for One-Third of New AIDS Diagnoses in Washington, D.C.
Approximately one-third of the 616 newly diagnosed adult AIDS cases in Washington, D.C., in 2001 were among women, according to new statistics released by the D.C. Department of Health's HIV/AIDS Administration on Saturday, the Washington Post reports. Local health officials at the first local "Women and Girls Summit" on HIV/AIDS warned that the number of newly diagnosed AIDS cases among women in the District has "risen sharply" in the last few years and that the trend is "alarming and preventable." According to the Post, men in the District now represent a "significantly ... decreased" percentage of new AIDS cases. Guy Weston, director of research at the HIV/AIDS Administration, said the declining percentage of new diagnoses among men is likely because of a "sharper focus on men" by HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs in the District and a dearth of research on how HIV/AIDS affects women. Felicia Lynch, director of health and support services at the HIV/AIDS Administration, said that "getting women to empower themselves, to take care of themselves and to go get tested [for HIV]" is the best way of slowing the AIDS rate among women in the area. Veronica Jenkins, a physician at Family and Medical Counseling Services in Washington, D.C., added that women are at an increased risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact, that they often display symptoms of HIV later than men do and that they must be "even more cautious" than men. According to the Post, the AIDS rate among D.C. women is more than 10 times higher than the national average, with 88 out of every 100,000 D.C. women diagnosed with AIDS, compared with 8.7 AIDS cases per 100,000 women nationwide. Currently, 24% of D.C.'s 13,899 AIDS cases are among women (Broadway, Washington Post, 10/27). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.