Newly Diagnosed HIV Cases Down in Washington D.C., But Epidemic Still Persists

Newly Diagnosed HIV Cases Down in Washington D.C., But Epidemic Still Persists

Chocolate City's health department releases a new report that finds few ups and more downs when it comes to its epidemic.

Published June 16, 2011

According to a new report, The District of Columbia HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Epidemiology Report 2010 Update, conducted by Washington D.C.'s health department, on the one hand our nation's capitol has good news and not-so-good news when it comes to HIV/AIDS. The good news: new infections are down from 1,311 in 2007 to 755 in 2009. The not-so-good news: Chocolate City still has a serious crisis on its hands with an HIV prevalence rate of 3.2 percent--the highest in the U.S. and triple the World Health Organization standard rate for an epidemic.


According to


The report credits needle-exchange programs for a 60 percent decline in the transmission of HIV/AIDS via intravenous drug use, and also notes that 75 percent of residents diagnosed as HIV-positive entered into treatment within three months, an increase over 58 percent in 2005. Deaths, late testing and HIV to AIDS progressions also declined in 2009. Experts warn, though, that it is too early to characterize that decline as a “substantial change in the District’s epidemic.”


The improvements based on needle exchange measures are hopeful, yet bittersweet.  In February, Prevention Works, the city's largest needle exchange program, closed its doors after 12 years of service. Prevention Works is known for needle exchange in D.C. ,which has been a long-time proven method of reducing HIV infections. Their clients were supposed to be sent to other AIDS organizations in the city for their needs, but advocates are not sure if that will happen.


Nationally, IV drug use among Black women account for 20-25 percent of HIV infections.


The report also found the following:


—African-American men bear the highest burden of the disease—7.1 percent of were living with HIV/AIDS.


—Thirty-nine percent of people living with HIV/AIDS were MSM; 27.2 percent contracted HIV through heterosexual contact; and 16.4 percent of HIV/AIDS cases were injection drug users.


—Heterosexual contact is the leading mode of transmission among Blacks living with HIV/AIDS at 32.4 percent, while sex between MSM were the leading mode of transmission among whites at 79 percent and Hispanics at 51.8 percent.


—D.C. residents ages 40 to 49 were the most significantly impacted by HIV/AIDS, with 7.4 percent of residents in that age group living with the disease.


—Black women in D.C. were 14 times more likely to be living with HIV/AIDS than white women.


—Nearly half of the chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnoses are among District residents 15 to 19 years old, with two-thirds of all diagnoses among those under 24.


—Syphilis is disproportionately affecting Blacks, who have 57 percent of all cases; 40 percent of cases are in Wards 1 and 2.


—Women now represent a higher proportion of TB cases, an increase from 36 percent in 2005 to 59 percent in 2009.


Read the full report here.


(Photo:Yiorgos Karahalis/ Reuters)




Written by Kellee Terrell


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