Lacks Make Up Large Proportion Of Those With HIV/AIDS

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According to new data released by Washington, D.C., HIV/AIDS Administration blacks make up a large percentage of HIV/AIDS cases in the city, the Washington Post reports.The report, which is the first update on HIV/AIDS in the district since2000, is a statistical analysis and not an estimate of HIV prevalencein the district, according to the Post.

More than80% of the HIV cases diagnosed in the district between 2001 and 2006were among black men, women and adolescents, the report found. Nine in10 women who tested positive for HIV were black, according to thereport. In addition, about 37% of HIV cases were transmitted throughheterosexual contact, compared with 25% that were transmitted among menwho have sex with men, the report said.

According to thereport, almost 12,500 district residents were known to be living withHIV/AIDS in 2006. The number of HIV cases in the district begandeclining in 2003, but the decrease likely is the result ofunderreporting or delayed reporting, the report said. One in 20district residents is HIV-positive and one in 50 is living with AIDS,according to Shannon Hader, head of the HIV/AIDS Administration. Thecity's cumulative number of AIDS cases is more than 17,400, accordingto the Post.

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More than two-thirds of AIDS casesin the district during the past 10 years were among people whoprogressed to AIDS within one year of being diagnosed with HIV,compared with 39% of AIDS cases nationwide, the report found. Thereport also found that more people ages 40 to 49 were being diagnosedwith HIV than any other age group. In addition, all of the 36 childrenin the district who tested positive for HIV since 2002 contracted thevirus during birth.

"HIV/AIDS in the district has become amodern epidemic with complexities and challenges that continue tothreaten the lives and well-being of far too many residents," thereport said. The report added that the analysis will give the district"a new tool to help improve the scope, quality and distribution ofcare, and treatment and prevention services."

Reaction

According to Hader, the report's finding that more than 37% of HIVcases were spread through heterosexual contact "blows the stereotypeout of the water." She added that HIV is "everybody's disease" in thedistrict. District Mayor Adrian Fenty in a letter accompanying thereport said that city officials "must take advantage of thisinformation with the sense of urgency that this epidemic deserves." TheHIV/AIDS Administration said it will use the report to determine thenext steps in curbing the spread of the virus. Health officials addedthat they will not focus on any one aspect of the disease or on asingle group at high risk of HIV/AIDS. "We don't have the luxury ofonly picking one," Hader said, adding, "We have the imperative to do itall" (Levine, Washington Post, 11/26).

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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserWeekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives,and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published forkaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.

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