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Officials Launch HIV Testing Campaign in Washington, D.C.

March 19, 2009

Mayor Adrian Fenty and top health officials in Washington, D.C., on Monday announced a new initiative aimed at increasing HIV testing in the city, the Washington Post reports. The testing campaign follows a report that found an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 3% in the district.

According to Shannon Hader, director of the city's HIV/AIDS Administration, the report marks the start of a new effort to address the disease in the district, the Post reports. "I am very hopeful, because I really believe that our citizens and our neighbors can take this information and use it to protect their lives."

Cornell Jones, executive director of the community development group Miracle Hands, said that the district is not adequately helping people who work with ex-offenders, a group with one of the highest HIV/AIDS burdens. "Right now, the agencies in the forefront of this battle are being attacked with a lack of funding," Jones said. According to the Post, Miracle Hands runs an HIV/AIDS prevention program within the D.C. Department of Corrections. HIV/AIDS Administration spokesperson Michael Kharfen said that the agency plans to hire someone to address issues among prisoners and parolees.

According to Miracle Hands Deputy Director Danette Williams, one of the group's most urgent needs is housing for HIV-positive people. "We have a revolving door," she said adding, "They go from emergency housing to supportive housing, and then they are back on the streets because services are fragmented. There is not enough continuity" (Harris, Washington Post, 3/19).

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