Washington, D.C., Releases New Data on HIV/AIDS
Washington, D.C., health officials on Monday released new data on HIV/AIDS in the city, the Washington Post reports. The report, which is the first update on HIV/AIDS in the district since 2000, is a statistical analysis and not an estimate of HIV prevalence in the district, according to the Post.
According to the report, almost 12,500 district residents were known to be living with HIV/AIDS in 2006. The number of HIV cases in the district began declining in 2003, but the decrease likely is the result of underreporting or delayed reporting, the report said. One in 20 district residents is HIV-positive and one in 50 is living with AIDS, according to Shannon Hader, head of the district's HIV/AIDS Administration. The city's cumulative number of AIDS cases is more than 17,400, according to the Post.
More than 80% of the HIV cases diagnosed in the district between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents, the report found. Nine in 10 women who tested positive for HIV were black, according to the report. In addition, about 37% of HIV cases were transmitted through heterosexual contact, compared with 25% that were transmitted among men who have sex with men, the report said.
More than two-thirds of AIDS cases in the district during the past 10 years were among people who progressed to AIDS within one year of being diagnosed with HIV, compared with 39% of AIDS cases nationwide, the report found. The report also found that more people ages 40 to 49 were being diagnosed with HIV than any other age group. In addition, all of the 36 children in the district who tested positive for HIV since 2002 contracted the virus during birth.
"HIV/AIDS in the district has become a modern epidemic with complexities and challenges that continue to threaten the lives and well-being of far too many residents," the report said. The report added that the analysis will offer the district a "new tool to help improve the scope, quality and distribution of care, and treatment and prevention services."
According to Hader, the report's finding that more than 37% of HIV cases were spread through heterosexual contact "blows the stereotype out of the water." She added that HIV is "everybody's disease" in the district. District Mayor Adrian Fenty in a letter accompanying the report said that city officials "must take advantage of this information with the sense of urgency that this epidemic deserves." The HIV/AIDS Administration said it will use the report to determine the next steps in curbing the spread of the virus. Health officials added that they will not focus on any one aspect of the disease or on a single group at high risk of HIV/AIDS. "We don't have the luxury of only picking one," Hader said, adding, "We have the imperative to do it all" (Levine, Washington Post, 11/26).
ABC's "Nightline" on Friday reported on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C., and efforts to educate teenagers about the disease. The segment includes comments from Nicole Styles and Arnita Michelle Wilson of Metro TeenAIDS, as well as Christopher Barnhill, an HIV-positive district resident (Tapper, "Nightline," ABC, 11/23). Premium video of the segment and expanded ABC News coverage are available online.
In addition, NPR's "Bryant Park Project" on Monday reported on the data (Martin, "Bryant Park Project," NPR, 11/26). Audio of the segment is available online.