June 15, 2011
D.C.’s Mayor Releases Report on the State of HIV/AIDS in the Nation’s Capital Today, the Office of Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C.’s Department of Health released a report on the status of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Washington, DC. The following is a statement from National Minority AIDS Council Deputy Executive Director and member of Mayor Gray’s Commission on HIV, Daniel C. Montoya:
Washington, DC — “Despite its status as the Capital of the wealthiest nation on earth, Washington, DC, carries one of the heaviest burdens of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country, with infection rates more than three times the level that the World Health Organization defines as a ‘generalized epidemic.’ But the release today of Mayor Vincent Gray’s report on the state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the District, provides some heartening news for the HIV/AIDS community.
“Efforts to scale up the District’s prevention and treatment services have, for the most part, proven extremely successful. District residents are being tested at much higher rates and earlier in their disease. The city’s expansion of its needle exchange programs has led to a sharp decline in transmissions related to injection drug use, while also linking residents to treatment and rehabilitation programs. More residents that test positive for HIV are being linked directly to care, leading to significantly improved health outcomes. And as a result, AIDS related deaths in the District decreased by more than half between 2005 and 2009.
“But serious challenges remain. While the epidemic has historically been, and continues to be, most severe among the District’s African American community, its increasing impact on Latinos raises serious concerns. A greater proportion of Latinos between the ages of 20 and 29 were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in the District than African Americans or Whites, and Latinos were significantly more likely to be tested late in their disease (64 percent to 44 percent for other racial/ethnic groups). Indeed, the percentage of late testing among all racial/ethnic groups in the District was well above the national average.
“As we work to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and prepare to host the International AIDS Conference in 2012, the progress made by the District of Columbia in reducing infections, increasing access to care and minimizing health disparities is promising. But there is still much work to be done. The mayor has shown a strong commitment to combatting the epidemic, and I am proud to serve with him. As the center of power for the U.S., and much of the World, Washington, DC must demonstrate strong leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Today’s report shows that, after decades of falling behind in that struggle, we are now on a path to do just that.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333