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Newly diagnosed cases of HIV declined by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to a new report, while no babies were born with the virus during the latter year.
It’s the sixth year in a row HIV rates have decreased in D.C., a significant accomplishment for a city still facing an epidemic. More than 16,000 D.C. residents—or 2.5 percent of the population—were living with HIV as of 2013, according a D.C. Department of Health report released this morning.
“D.C. continues to make progress in the fight against HIV, and we have good news to share with you today,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said today at Whitman-Walker Health’s Eastern Market location.
Between 2007 and 2013, new HIV injections due to injected drug use decreased by about 87 percent. Bowser attributes the decline to D.C.’s needle exchange programs, which removed 696,000 needles from the street last year.
Despite the dramatic decline in infection rates, African Americans are still disproportionately affected. At the end of 2013, black men had the highest HIV infection rates in D.C., with about six percent of the population living with the virus. More than two percent of Hispanic men, black women, and white men are living with HIV.
District officials also announced a new initiative, the“90-90-90-50 plan,” to reduce HIV transmission rates in the District. “We are setting a bold goal of 90-90-90-50 by the year 2020,” Bowser said, “meaning 90 percent of D.C. residents with HIV will know their status, 90 percent of persons living with HIV will be in treatment, 90 percent of persons with HIV will achieve viral load suppression, and the District will see a 50 percent decrease in new HIV cases.”
DOH Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said the effort would target populations disproportionately impacted by HIV transmission, including gay and black men. About 41 percent of newly diagnosed cases between 2009 and 2013 were among gay men, according to the report.
Chart via DOH report