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U.S. News

New Study Looks at D.C. HIV Rate

June 22, 2012

Ahead of next month's International AIDS Conference in Washington, an assessment released Wednesday shows that HIV remains at epidemic levels in the District.

The D.C. Department of Health's annual HIV/AIDS update, which covers 2010, shows that 14,465 people were living with the disease that year, for a prevalence rate of 2.7 percent among residents older than 12. This is among the highest prevalence rates of any US city. The figure is more accurate than in previous years due to an improved tracking system that eliminates duplication.

In a statement, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) noted Washington has improved its ability to quickly connect those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to care. In 2010, 76.1 percent of infected people were linked to care within three months, up from 58 percent in 2006.

However, data from an ongoing CDC-funded survey of 21 cities show Washington has a "very serious heterosexual epidemic," said Greg Pappas, the Health Department's senior director. In 2008, the survey sampled 750 heterosexuals in areas of the District with high rates of infection and poverty; it found an overall infection rate of 5.2 percent, climbing to 6.3 percent among at-risk women. By 2010, those rates had risen to 8 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively. The demographic characteristics of the 482 participants in 2010 were similar to those in the previous survey: Nearly all were black; 62 percent earned less than $10,000; and 37 percent were unemployed.

Officials noted that the survey interviewed individuals with connections to high-risk social networks, in which HIV infection is high and the chances of becoming infected are greater. Pappas said the sample size also is limited.

But unlike other cities where the at-risk population is concentrated among IV drug users or men who have sex with men, Washington has a very "mixed epidemic" that disproportionately affects blacks. In addition, 20 percent to 30 percent of the District's HIV-positive residents are "probably walking around infected and don't know it," Pappas said.

Back to other news for June 2012

Adapted from:
Washington Post
06.21.2012; Lena H. Sun

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
HIV/AIDS in the Mid-Atlantic

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