Washington, D.C., HIV Testing Campaign Poorly Planned, Lacking in Results, Report Says
December 18, 2006
Washington, D.C.'s citywide HIV testing campaign has been poorly planned and is lacking in results, according to a report by the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, the Washington Post reports (Levine, Washington Post, 12/16). District of Columbia health officials and HIV/AIDS advocates in June launched the campaign titled, "Come Together D.C., Get Screened for HIV," which emphasizes the importance of HIV testing. The campaign aims to reach 400,000 men and women ages 14 to 84 in the District. According to statistics presented at the Mayor's Task Force on HIV/AIDS, which convened for the first time in June, up to 25,000 people, or more than 4% of all residents, in the district might be HIV-positive. District health officials ordered 80,000 rapid HIV tests for the campaign, which organizers plan to distribute at no cost to hospital emergency departments, private physician offices, community health programs, detoxification centers and substance use, and sexually transmitted infection treatment clinics. The city will allot about $8 million for the project, some of which will go toward counseling and medical referrals for those who test positive for the virus, according to Gregg Pane, director of the city Department of Health (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/4). According to the report -- which gave the city grades ranging from B+ to D+ in more than one dozen categories, including syringe-exchange programs and grant monitoring -- fewer than 20,000 District residents have received HIV tests since the campaign began. In addition, some of the rapid HIV tests were not distributed before their expiration date and some were given to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Post reports. The report also found that:
In addition, there were a number of positive findings, including that the city's HIV/AIDS administration has improved HIV/AIDS surveillance and that the District's corrections department has increased HIV testing.
Next Steps, Reaction
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.