Washington, D.C., Mayor Fenty Pledges To Address HIV/AIDS
Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty on Wednesday pledged to "put an end to [the] crisis" of HIV/AIDS in the district, although he did not commit to declaring a state of emergency based on the number of cases in the city, the Washington Post reports. Fenty held Wednesday's summit -- which was attended by more than 150 health experts, service providers and advocates -- as part of his action plan for his first 100 days in office. Fenty said that within one week, district agencies involved with HIV/AIDS will be called on to work together and that he likely soon will select a new director for the city's Administration for HIV Policy and Programs. "This is the No. 1 (public health) priority of this government," Fenty said. Also at the summit, Department of Health Director Gregg Pane said that about 48,000 people in 2006 received HIV tests as part of the district's citywide testing campaign (Levine, Washington Post, 4/5). District health officials and HIV/AIDS advocates in June 2006 launched the campaign, titled "Come Together D.C., Get Screened for HIV," which emphasizes the importance of HIV testing. The campaign aimed to reach 400,000 men, women and children ages 14 to 84 in the district. According to statistics presented at the Mayor's Task Force on HIV/AIDS, which convened for the first time in June 2006, up to 25,000 people, or more than 4% of all residents, in the district might be HIV-positive. District health officials ordered 80,000 rapid HIV tests for the campaign, which organizers planned to distribute at no cost to hospital emergency departments, private physician offices, community health programs, detoxification and substance use centers, and sexually transmitted infection treatment clinics (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/18/06). According to Pane, the number of people screened in 2006 is the most recorded in a single year and a 75% increase compared with 2005. Half of people screened were tested at private medical facilities and more than one-third were tested in clinics or hospitals. Men and women in their mid-30s to mid-40s were the most likely to receive tests, while older teenagers and young adults were the least likely to receive tests, according to the Post. The campaign did not attain its goal of reaching the several hundred thousand residents in its targeted population, and Pane added that data collected at testing sites were not complete enough to provide the demographic information needed to develop the most effective prevention and treatment plans. According to the Post, officials are examining data to determine how many new HIV cases were identified among district residents who did not receive tests in more skewed settings, such as the city's prison facility. The district estimates that 17,000 to 23,000 people in the city are living with HIV, but "years of surveillance shortfalls mean that data-driven calculations are unavailable," the Post reports. According to Pane, 5,179 new AIDS cases were reported locally between 2001 and 2006 (Washington Post, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.