Mayor Gray takes an HIV test during a press conference in July.

The number of new HIV cases in the District continues to decline while the number of people with HIV are living longer, according to a new D.C. Department of Health report, which looks at the state of HIV and other diseases considered to be epidemics in the District in 2012. At a press conference today, Mayor Vince Gray hailed the report as great progress in a city that has long been considered one of the nation’s epicenters of the disease.

There were 680 people diagnosed with HIV in the District in 2012, a decline from the 718 cases diagnosed in 2011 and a 42 percent decrease from the 1,180 new cases in 2008. In all, 16,072 people, or 2.5 percent, of the District’s population was living with HIV in D.C. in 2012. That number represents an increase from the 15,056 people living with the disease in 2011, which city officials attribute to the reality that people are living longer with the disease.

The number of new AIDs cases declined by 35 percent between 2008 and 2012, from 567 cases to 370, suggesting that treatment for HIV is effective and more people are seeking treatment earlier.

The statistics coming out today, however, show that black residents are still disproportionately impacted by the disease, accounting for nearly 75 percent of new infections. While 2.5 percent of the District’s entire population is living with HIV, 3.9 percent of black residents have it, and 5.7 percent of black males have it. The World Health Organization defines an epidemic as a disease that infects at least 1 percent of the population, which means that in D.C., HIV is still very much an epidemic—and, for black residents, it’s a severe epidemic.

The good news is that the number of new cases in the black population did decrease, from 541 new HIV cases in 2011 to 489 in 2012. (There were 918 new cases in 2008.) For whites that figure  increased from 103 cases in 2011 to 105 cases in 2012, which is still a drop from 152 cases in 2008.

“The District of Columbia continues to make progress,” Mayor Vince Gray said at the press conference, where he took his annual HIV test. “We have a lot of work yet to do. We cannot rest until we have no new cases and are on our way to a cure.”

Here are some other important takeaways from today’s report:

  • The “magnitude of the [hepatitis C] epidemic in the District is at a minimum, comparable to that of HIV.” There were 15,915 cases documented between 2008 and 2012.
  • Wards 8, 5, and 7 have the highest rates of new cases, with one in every 100 people living in these wards diagnosed with HIV in the past five years.
  • There were no confirmed reports of a baby being diagnosed with HIV in 2012.
  • There was an 81 percent decrease in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases where the reported mode of transmission was injection drug use.
  • The number of deaths among people with HIV decreased by 36 percent from 345 in 2008 to 221 in 2012.
  • D.C. handed out 6.9 million male and female condoms in 2013, a 14 times increase from 2007.
  • D.C. removed 647,000 needles from the street in 2013 through its needle exchange program, up from 550,000 in 2012.
  • There were 177,000 publicly supported HIV tests in 2013, an increase from the 138,000 in 2012.
  • There were 7,258 new cases of chlamydia, 2,605 new cases of gonorrhea, and 173 new cases of primary and secondary syphilis reported in 2012.

Photo by Perry Stein