Washington, D.C., Ranks High in Infant Mortality, HIV Prevalence; Experts Say Improvements Possible
Washington, D.C., is an "unhealthy city" by "nearly every indicator of disease or condition," including HIV prevalence and infant mortality rate, the Washington Post reports. The district's infant mortality rate is among the worst in the country when compared with other states' rates, the Post reports (Levine , Washington Post, 1/13). The infant mortality rate dropped to its second-lowest recorded level in 2002, and the birth rate among teen girls dropped 44% between 1990 and 2000, according to the Post. "I'm not depressed about the disparities," Ruth Lubic, founder of the D.C. Developing Families Center -- which offers women prenatal care, delivery services and child care enrollment services -- said, adding, "We've seen a lot of positive changes." The district's HIV prevalence rate is the fifth highest in the nation, according to the Post. "It is a staggering statistic," Cornelius Baker, former head of the Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, said, adding that he believes the high rate can be attributed to blacks' distrust of the health care system; the city's young, sexually active population; a transient population of men who have sex with men; and drug trafficking, the Post reports. About 25% of the HIV-positive people living in the district are women. However, Baker added that the district has had "tremendous success" in building HIV/AIDS treatment infrastructure and getting HIV-positive people to seek treatment (Levine , Washington Post, 1/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.