Report Finds 16,000 DC Residents Living with HIV/AIDS

City’s AIDS rate remains the highest in the country

By: Emily Leaman

DC’s Department of Health released its annual HIV/AIDS update today, finding no substantial change in the prevalence of the disease in the District. Holding steady at 3.2 percent—and amounting to more than 16,000 adults and adolescents—DC’s AIDS crisis remains at epidemic proportions, and is the highest rate in any city in the country.

According to the report, there were 755 newly diagnosed HIV cases in 2009, showing a drop in new cases for the second straight year. However, officials are wary to characterize the decline as significant to the epidemic, since it may have more to do with new procedures for how AIDS cases are tracked and logged than with a substantive decline in AIDS cases themselves.

What they can say, though, is that the disease continues to disproportionately affect African Americans, with 4.7 percent of black residents living with the disease. By comparison, 2.2 percent of Hispanic residents and only 1.5 percent of whites are infected. At 7.1 percent, black men are the most severely impacted group. And there are more black women living with AIDS than all other racial groups combined.

New AIDS cases among older adults jumped dramatically, from 19 percent in 2005 to 26 percent in 2009. Among residents ages 40 to 49, 7.4 percent have HIV/AIDS, along with 6.1 percent of 50 to 59 year olds.

Other key findings:

• At nearly 68 percent, men accounted for the lion’s share of HIV/AIDS diagnoses between 2005 and 2009.

• There has been a substantial drop in the number of newly diagnosed cases attributable to drug use—from 27.7 percent in 2005 to 8.3 percent in 2009.

• There are 333 reported pediatric HIV/AIDS cases in the District, defined as cases among boys and girls diagnosed before the age of 13. Of those, 317—that’s 95.2 percent—are African American.

• Wards five, six, seven, and eight have the highest concentrations of residents with HIV or AIDS, though nearly all DC Wards have at least a 1 percent prevalence rate.

The report also includes updates on hepatitis, STDs, and tuberculosis in DC. For the full report, go here.

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