“Our rates are higher than West Africa….They’re on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.”
—Dr. Shannon Hader, city AIDS czar, March 16
Prior to this year, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty had called HIV and AIDS in the city is his No. 1 public health priority. But while he made key changes in the background—appointing Hader, for one, and placing a new emphasis on testing—Mr. Meaningless Press Conference has rarely done high-profile AIDS-awareness events. He even forgot to mention the epidemic in his yearly State of the District address. That behavior’s been put in sharper focus by the release of new testing results in March, which came packaged in the Washington Post with the above quote. The juxtaposition of the national capital with the Third World prompted an avalanche of hand-wringing and attention to the issue, not that that worked out for Fenty. As the year ended, he saw his valuable behind-the-scenes work go almost wholly unheeded as the Post set its sights on the city’s AIDS epidemic (and a Pulitzer Prize). A series of articles by reporter Debbie Cenziper uncovered shocking instances of mismanagement and poor spending—virtually all of which predated the Fenty administration.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery