Re­port: D.C. show­ing mod­est gains in curb­ing HIV

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY LAURA KELLY

The Dis­trict, which leads the na­tion in the rate of HIV in­fec­tion, has seen mod­est gains over the past year in its fight against HIV/AIDS, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual re­port pub­lished Tues­day.

Mayor Muriel Bowser on Tues­day an­nounced data from the 2017 Hepati­tis, STD and TB Ad­min­is­tra­tion (HAHSTA) re­port, which tracks the city’s progress in re­duc­ing the num­ber of new HIV in­fec­tions and in in­creas­ing test­ing, aware­ness and pre­ven­tive mea­sures.

“For nine con­sec­u­tive years, the Dis­trict has been able to work to­gether with the com­mu­nity to de­crease the num­ber of new HIV cases. We know we have more work to do, but this data is good news for our city and our res­i­dents,” Miss Bowser said at a press event at the Whit­man-Walker Health clinic on Na­tional HIV Test­ing Day.

“In just one decade, we have made tremen­dous progress, and to­day our res­i­dents who are di­ag­nosed with HIV are get­ting care faster, and they are start­ing and stay­ing on treat­ments that we know are ef­fec­tive,” the mayor said.

About 1 in 13 D.C. res­i­dents are at risk of be­ing in­fected with HIV in their life­time, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

The HAHSTA re­port is a bench­mark for Miss Bowser’s 90/90/90/50 by 2020 cam­paign, which she launched in 2016 to com­bat the shock­ingly high num­bers of Dis­trict res­i­dents in­fected with HIV.

Ap­pear­ing with Miss Bowser, D.C. Health Di­rec­tor LaQuan­dra S. Nes­bitt stressed that elim­i­nat­ing the stigma of HIV is key to get­ting more peo­ple tested and con­nected with health care providers if they are HIV-pos­i­tive.

“Spread­ing the word about the suc­cess of HIV treat­ment is one way to en­cour­age our res­i­dents with the virus to stay on their med­i­ca­tions,” said Dr. Nes­bitt. “Our HIV-pos­i­tive res­i­dents now have the same op­por­tu­nity as any­one else to live full and healthy lives, and they play a crit­i­cal role in end­ing this epi­demic once and for all.”

Of the new statis­tics, the na­tion’s cap­i­tal saw a 0.1 per­cent­age point drop in the num­ber of cur­rent res­i­dents liv­ing with HIV, from 13,391 to 12,964 peo­ple.

The num­ber of new HIV cases in 2016 was 347, com­pared to 371 new cases in 2015.

How­ever, 2016 marked the first time a baby was born with HIV since 2012, and cases of chlamy­dia, gon­or­rhea and syphilis — es­pe­cially among young peo­ple — are on the rise.

“The Dis­trict main­tains sig­nif­i­cant rates of HIV, STDs, hepati­tis and TB,” the HAHSTA re­port says. “Health dis­par­i­ties also re­main a sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture of the epi­demics in the Dis­trict. In par­tic­u­lar, blacks are dis­pro­por­tion­ately im­pacted by HIV, chlamy­dia, and gon­or­rhea; black gay or bi­sex­ual men and black women have the high­est rates of new HIV di­ag­noses; His­pan­ics/Latino have a higher pro­por­tion of new HIV di­ag­noses; and ado­les­cents and young peo­ple have higher rates of chlamy­dia and gon­or­rhea than adults.”

About 1.1 mil­lion peo­ple in the U.S. are HIV-pos­i­tive, but 1 in 7 Amer­i­cans don’t know they’re in­fected, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

Ad­vance­ments in treat­ing the hu­man im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency virus, which first ap­peared in the early 1980s, in­clude a cock­tail of ther­a­pies that sup­presses the dis­ease to the point where a per­son can ex­pect to live a long life and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the po­ten­tial to in­fect some­one else.

Ad­di­tion­ally, peo­ple who are at high risk for con­tract­ing the dis­ease can take “pre-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis” (PreP) med­i­ca­tion to pre­vent in­fec­tions.


Dr. LaQuan­dra S. Nes­bitt (left) said while HIV cases are de­creas­ing in the Dis­trict, elim­i­nat­ing the stigma as­so­ci­ated with the dis­ease will push peo­ple to get tested.

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