HIV/AIDS Is D.C.'s Biggest Health Problem

HIV/AIDS Is D.C.'s Biggest Health Problem

Days after the city released an eye-opening report about its HIV and STI rates, a new survey finds that residents are fully aware and concerned about these epidemics.

Published June 22, 2011

With an HIV prevalence rate that mirrors rates in the developing world, it's no wonder why Washington D.C. has been dubbed "the epicenter of AIDS" in the U.S. And yet with its reputation and crippling epidemic, one might wonder if the residents understand just how serious HIV/AIDS is.


Well a new survey found that they very much aware.


"The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that despite the city’s efforts toward HIV prevention, treatment and needle exchange, more than 30 percent of D.C.'s residents named HIV/AIDS as their most urgent health problem. Nationally, most cities name cancer and obesity their biggest health concerns.


The Post wrote:


"And the scourge of HIV/AIDS weighs particularly heavily on the minds of African-American residents, who suffer from the disease in disproportionate numbers are far more likely than white residents to raise it as a concern in discussions and more often fret over whether they or their family members will become infected."


More than four in 10 African-Americans—44 percent—say they personally are concerned about contracting HIV, compared with 10 percent of white residents, according to the poll.


“It’s spreading so rapidly in the Black community,” said Ahwaneda Brown, reflecting the concern of the 65 percent of African-American respondents who fear a family member might get the virus. Only eight percent of white residents are similarly worried.


The survey also found the following:


—Around two-thirds of Blacks say they know someone directly affected by HIV or AIDS.


—Across the city, 58 percent of residents say someone they know has the disease or has died of it—far higher than the 41 percent who said so in a national survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.


—Nearly half of African-Americans say HIV/AIDS comes up in conversations with family and friends at least sometimes. That’s about double the proportion among whites.


The results of this survey comes almost one week after the city's health department released their new report on HIV/AIDS and STIs. According to a the report, The District of Columbia HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Epidemiology Report 2010 Update, 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.

Written by Kellee Terrell


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