HIV/AIDS Education in Washington, D.C., Schools Lacking, Other City Efforts Improving, Group Finds
December 12, 2007
Delays in implementing a comprehensive HIV/AIDS education program in Washington, D.C., public schools are putting students at risk and undermining the city's efforts to fight the disease, according to a report released Wednesday by the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, the Washington Post reports. The center has given the district's public school system a "D" grade for its lack of progress in providing HIV/AIDS education to students, according to the Post.
The most recent HIV/AIDS figures for the district found that almost 12,500 people were known to be living with the disease in 2006 and that more than 80% of several thousand new HIV cases since 2001 occurred among black residents, the Post reports. Although the figures "renewed criticism" of the HIV/AIDS Administration's prior handling of the epidemic, they represented an important statistical "breakthrough" for which Appleseed awarded an "A," according to the Post. The report also includes a number of accomplishments on disease surveillance by the HIV/AIDS Administration, such as fixing a HIV/AIDS case backlog and working with community groups, laboratories and doctors for better data collection. The report said that the improvement in HIV/AIDS surveillance "does not by itself advance the city's response to the epidemic" but provides "a much needed new tool for targeting that response."
The report also noted that the HIV/AIDS Administration now has more than four dozen hospitals, clinics, private doctors and not-for-profit groups doing routine HIV testing during medical care. In addition, the agency increased its distribution of no-cost condoms from 115,000 last year to a projected one million this year, and it responded quickly when groups complained about some of the condom packaging, Appleseed said. HIV/AIDS Administration Director Shannon Hader, who took office in mid-October, has pledged to triple the number of condoms distributed by 2009. Hader expressed satisfaction with the evaluation, adding, "It helps us to have another eye on what we're doing, to give us feedback."
The district's Department of Corrections received the highest score from the group. About 75% of inmates at the district jail are screened for HIV/AIDS on arrival, the Post reports. Beginning in January, HIV-positive inmates will receive a 28-day supply of antiretroviral drugs on discharge so their treatment is not interrupted. The two initiatives are "at the forefront of the nation," Appleseed's report said. "Enormous progress has been made," Susan Galbraith -- director of the not-for-profit Our Place DC, which assists women who have been incarcerated -- said (Levine, Washington Post, 12/12).
The report is available online (.pdf).
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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.