D.C. HIV/AIDS Rate Surpasses Parts of Africa

Published March 18, 2009

The HIV and AIDS rate in the nation’s capital has reached alarming heights, according to a report released by the D.C. HIV/AIDS Administration.

At least 3 percent of D.C. residents have HIV or AIDS, which is about 3,000 people per every 100,000 in the city, the report says.  Black men have the highest rate of infection at 7 percent. Black women in the city have a 3 percent infection rate. Overall, over 4 percent of D.C. Blacks are reportedly infected with HIV and 76 percent of the city’s HIV-infected residents are Black.

Heterosexual intercourse is the leading mode of transmission among Blacks with the disease.

If these figures aren’t scary enough, the number of residents actually infected is “certainly higher,” the report says, considering the numbers only reflect those who have gotten tested, reports The Washington Post.

An area needs just a 1 percent rate of infection for an epidemic to be considered “generalized and severe.” D.C.’s numbers are drawing comparisons to parts of Africa, a continent where AIDS has ravaged some communities. “Our rates are higher than West Africa. They’re on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya,” the city’s director of HIV/AIDS Administration, Shannon L. Hader, told the Post.

The numbers shot up 22 percent since 2007’s report and is the most accurate report ever done, according to its authors.

Watch BET's news brief on the issue.

Mayor Adrian Fenty expressed concern over the epidemic, but at the same time urged citizens to be more responsible.

“In order to solve an issue as complex as HIV and AIDS, you have to step it up. It’s the mayor and certainly other elected officials. But it’s also the community. You have this problem affecting us, and you tell people how serious it is and it literally goes in one ear and out the other.”

There was one bright spot in the report: the city government’s HIV testing programs have increased 70 percent, and people are being diagnosed earlier.

Written by BET.com News Staff

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