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The number of new AIDS cases in D.C. declined by 35 percent between 2008 and 2012, suggesting that more and more people are getting tested and seeking—and receiving—effective treatment earlier. So this year, Whitman-Walker Health—the District’s largest community-based provider of HIV services—changed the name of its 28th annual fundraising event from the “AIDS Walk Washington” to the “Walk to End HIV”—a symbolic switch reflecting the once-unthinkable reality that people with HIV don’t ever have to develop AIDS.
The idea is to make the walk sound like a walk for a cure, something hopeful, rather than an event to memorialize the devastating number of people who have died from AIDS. HIV is still, by definition, considered an epidemic in D.C., and there is plenty more room for improvement, particularly considering that black residents are disproportionately affected by the disease. But D.C. has historically been one of the nation’s epicenters of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. If Whitman-Walker believes the end of HIV in D.C. is tangible—or at least imaginable—that’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.