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A Look in the Rearview Mirror: Washington, D.C., and HIV/AIDS in 2010

December 6, 2010

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As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, takes stock of 2010 in a new series of articles, "HIV/AIDS Year in Review: Looking Back on 2010 (and Ahead to 2011)." Read the entire series here.

Washington, D.C., is a city with an elephant in the room called AIDS. Everyone sees it. No one acknowledges it. Well, hardly anyone. The people who do notice it are working hard to get it out of here. And just like mere mortals pushing against a 3-ton pachyderm, the advocates and nonprofit organizations have put forth a valiant fight against AIDS. Their efforts so far seems quite amazing to the outsiders. There have been rallies, summits, passing of the bill, passing of the buck, debuts and departures. Here's a month-by-month look in the rearview mirror at AIDS in D.C.

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

January: Housing Works and Campaign to End AIDS started the year with a rally in front of the White House. President Obama floated the idea of temporarily stopping the funding for all of what he called non-defense discretionary spending. This funding pause would have lasted for approximately three years.

February: Before D.C. was belted by blizzards, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the appointment of 25 new members to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). PACHA provides advice, information and recommendations to the Secretary regarding programs and policies intended to promote effective prevention of HIV disease, and to advance research on HIV disease and AIDS.

March: Ahhhh! Finally we thawed. The third annual Epidemiology report was released showing that the number of new AIDS cases declined 33 percent from 786 in 2004 to 525 in 2008. Also, from 2004 to 2007 there was a 30 percent decrease in D.C. residents dying from AIDS. However, the number of people living with HIV in D.C. has risen by one-third from 12,428 in 2006 to 16,513 in 2008.


The Health Care Reform bill passed. While most local organizations were pleased with the bill overall, some other organizations weren't shouting victory. There were some kinks, such as the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) not allowing states to expand Medicaid to people with HIV before they get sick with other illnesses, that were not so exhilarating. That would have taken some of the burden off of ADAP.

April: During one of the worse allergy season in years, we celebrated an anniversary in the park. Campaign to End AIDS celebrated five years of service. A quiet celebration in Anacostia Park almost seemed unfitting for such a vigorous group of crusaders. Yet they pressed on.

Late May: The Office of National AIDS Policy hosted a summit on Black males and HIV/AIDS. It was the first of its kind for the White House; and since one out of 16 black men will receive an HIV diagnosis in his lifetime, it was more than on time.

June: Temperatures rose on the thermostat and in the Department of Health. Dr. Shannon Hader abruptly resigned as chief director of D.C.'s HIV/AIDS Administration. A highly respected and experienced physician whose work spanned two continents, Dr. Hader was known to be very responsive and compassionate about the epidemic. She was the 12th person to hold the position in the past 21 years. There was no official reason given at the time for her departure but when she's ready to talk, the D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner will be ready to listen.

Mpoderate! (a subsidiary of La Clínica del Pueblo) made its debut as the first center for Hispanic/Latino GBT youth in D.C.. La Clínica del Pueblo (LCDP) has been a sanctuary for the D.C. Latino population to access quality and culturally sensitive health care. The opening of Mpoderate, which means empowerment, served as an extension of that health care. [Read an interview with Jose Ramirez, one of the driving forces behind Mpoderate!, talking about the work of the program.]

The Other City, a documentary film about AIDS in D.C. from the frontlines, debuted at the Newseum. It was the first time a filmmaker took a long, candid look at the battle in D.C. and the hurdles that must be crossed to make real changes in our city.

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This article was provided by TheBody.
See Also
HIV/AIDS Year in Review: Looking Back on 2010 (and Ahead to 2011)
HIV/AIDS in the Mid-Atlantic

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