Washington DC has Highest HIV/AIDS Reports

1 in 50 people in the District of Columbia has HIV/AIDS

D.C. health officials released a report earlier this week showing the Washington, DC area to have the highest rate of the AIDS infection than any other city in the US. Between the years of 2001 and 2006, there were 7,947 HIV cases reported which included, 4,468 AIDS cases. Following these statistics, it is reported that African Americans (84.3%) made up that population nine times more than whites and twenty times more than Hispanics.According to the 2007 District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Annual Report “The preeminent finding of this renewed annual examination of the District’s HIV and AIDS status is that every community and every population group is impacted by the virus.”

Included in the report is a call to action to every District resident:

“Overall, this report shows that HIV/AIDS in the District has become a modern epidemic with complexities and challenges that continues to threaten the lives and well-being of far too many residents. The data presented here is not intended to sit on a shelf. It is meant to motivate stakeholders, public officials, medical and community providers, civic and business leadership, people living with HIV/AIDS, and every District resident to translate the numbers into policy and programmatic action. DOH urges everyone to consider how the severity of the epidemic in the District, seek more refined data, and challenge the administrators and network of services and providers that address HIV/AIDS to improve their response to this devastating disease. A successful outcome of this report will be increased targeted prevention efforts, more aggressive testing, and improved care for those in need.”

Additional findings reveal that modes of transmission include injection drug use, men who have sex with men (MSM), heterosexual contact, risk not identified and other, with the highest percentage (31%) coming from heterosexual contact. The largest group under the category Age at Diagnosis fell within ages 20-29, at 18%. These results show that the face of the HIV/AIDS virus is growing steadily to be the youth. Lamar Anderson, Youth Center Coordinator at Metro TeenAIDs believes that the youth of today do not take this epidemic seriously. “There should be year round events that promote awareness, not just World AIDS Day, National HIV Testing Day and more that are very prevalent. There should be something going on year round nation wide, so that the youth continue to see that this epidemic is hurting their community and taking people out in mass numbers,” Anderson said.Anderson believes that awareness is very important and should be increased because the numbers surrounding the AIDS epidemic are increasing. “[We can increase awareness] by using more peer to peer efforts, more celebrity support, more community support and more support from the school systems. Now is the time to meet youth where they are, if we use these main four avenues, the youth would be much more receptive to the awareness message and movement,” Anderson said. December 1st is observed as World AIDS Day. With the HIV/AIDS epidemic rapidly claiming the lives of many, it is important to make yourselves aware and be tested. Here are some centers for free confidential testing in the DC area:

• Walter Whitman Clinic 1407 S St. NW (202) 939-7690

• Washington Free Clinic1525 Newton St. NW (202) 667-1106

• The Women’s Collective1436 U Street NW Suite 200 (202) 483-7003

• Unity HealthCare 850 Delaware Ave. SE (202) 548-4520

• Planned Parenthood1108 16th Street NW (202) 347-85123937A Minnesota Ave. NE (202) 388-4770