Editorials Respond to Report About HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C.
Two newspapers recently published editorials in response to a report released earlier this week on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. According to the report, almost 12,500 district residents were known to be living with HIV/AIDS in 2006. Thirty-seven percent of HIV cases were transmitted through heterosexual contact, compared with 25% that were transmitted among men who have sex with men. The city's cumulative number of AIDS cases is more than 17,400. 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/27).
Summaries of the editorials appear below.
New York Times: Congress might be "partly to blame" for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the district because it bars the city from funding needle-exchange programs, a Times editorial says. According to the editorial, the report illustrates the "harm wrought by Congress' senseless ban" on district funding for needle-exchange programs, which have been found to slow the spread of HIV by giving injection drug users clean needles. The report found that more than 20% of the city's HIV/AIDS cases could be traced back to injection drug use, the editorial says. It adds that by barring the city from using local tax dollars for such programs, Congress has "hurt women and children" and has "driven up the city's AIDS rate." Congress, which is "on the verge of overturning the ban, needs to act right away," the editorial concludes ("The Board," New York Times, 11/27).
Washington Times: The report suggests that the district's HIV/AIDS epidemic is fueled by a "culture of reckless behavior" and that the virus is spreading to the city's general population, a Times editorial says. According to the editorial, the question for the city and HIV/AIDS advocates is, "[W]here is the detailed plan to curb this modern-day epidemic?" The "best testing regimes" for HIV are "little match" for the epidemic, the editorial says, adding that the "primary difficulty continues to be swaying attitudes against risky behavior." The report provides "full pictures of the modes of [HIV] transmission," the editorial says, concluding, "Now begins the hard part -- convincing teen and adult risk-takers that they are playing Russian roulette with their very own lives" (Washington Times, 11/28).