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Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released a new report on HIV in D.C. including numbers through 2008. Here’s a look at the extent of the epidemic, according to the CDC’s findings:
*D.C.’s AIDS rate is higher than that of any U.S. state. Our AIDS rate is approximately 10 times that of the U.S. in general.
* D.C.’s AIDS rate is higher than these major cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Detroit, and Chicago.
* From 2004 to 2008, 3,312 new AIDS cases were diagnosed in D.C. African-Americans accounted for 86 percent of those cases.
* New AIDS cases are decreasing: From 2004 to 2007, newly-diagnosed AIDS cases decreased from 164 to 137 cases. From 2007 to 2008, they decreased from 137 to 107 cases.
* In 2008, 4.7 percent of African-Americans in D.C. were HIV-positive. “The burden of disease among blacks/African Americans in DC is especially high,” the CDC reports. “In 2008, blacks/African Americans represented 55% of DC’s population, but accounted for 78% of those living with HIV infection and 86% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases.”
* The risk to African-American women is extreme: Of new AIDS cases diagnosed in D.C., 94 percent of women diagnosed were African-American, compared to 82 percent of men.
* HIV testing is increasing: From 2005 to 2007, surveys showed that the percentage of D.C. citizens who had been tested for HIV in the past year rose from 15 percent to 19 percent. But the surveying method has a serious flaw: It only includes adults with landlines, not those who only have cell phones.
* More people in D.C. are testing positive for HIV: From 2004 to 2008, the “number of persons testing positive” for HIV in D.C. increased by 353 percent, from 246 in 2004 to 1,115 in 2008.
* Free HIV tests are significantly more available: From 2004 to 2008, “publicly funded HIV tests” increased by 335 percent. Free tests increased by 415 percent for African-Americans.
* How the D.C. Department of Health’s anti-HIV initiatives may be working: “Although the causes of the improvement in these indicators are unknown and cannot be linked to any specific intervention, they suggest improvements in the delivery of HIV testing and linkage to care services in DC,” the CDC reports. These efforts include “enhanced collaborations, working with D.C. residents as spokespersons for local marketing campaigns and creating toolkits for health-care providers to expand HIV testing and linkage to care.”
* Where to go from here: The CDC recommends that “ongoing and increased HIV testing and efforts to ensure linkage to care are warranted.” I’d say so.