The Sexist

HIV in D.C., By the Numbers

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released a new report on HIV in D.C. including numbers through 2008. Here's a look at the extent of the epidemic, according to the CDC's findings:

*D.C.'s AIDS rate is higher than that of any U.S. state. Our AIDS rate is approximately 10 times that of the U.S. in general.

* D.C.'s AIDS rate is higher than these major cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Detroit, and Chicago.

* From 2004 to 2008, 3,312 new AIDS cases were diagnosed in D.C. African-Americans accounted for 86 percent of those cases.

* New AIDS cases are decreasing: From 2004 to 2007, newly-diagnosed AIDS cases decreased from 164 to 137 cases. From 2007 to 2008, they decreased from 137 to 107 cases.

* In 2008, 4.7 percent of African-Americans in D.C. were HIV-positive. "The burden of disease among blacks/African Americans in DC is especially high," the CDC reports. "In 2008, blacks/African Americans represented 55% of DC's population, but accounted for 78% of those living with HIV infection and 86% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases."

* The risk to African-American women is extreme: Of new AIDS cases diagnosed in D.C., 94 percent of women diagnosed were African-American, compared to 82 percent of men.

* HIV testing is increasing: From 2005 to 2007, surveys showed that the percentage of D.C. citizens who had been tested for HIV in the past year rose from 15 percent to 19 percent. But the surveying method has a serious flaw: It only includes adults with landlines, not those who only have cell phones.

* More people in D.C. are testing positive for HIV: From 2004 to 2008, the "number of persons testing positive" for HIV in D.C. increased by 353 percent, from 246 in 2004 to 1,115 in 2008.

* Free HIV tests are significantly more available: From 2004 to 2008, "publicly funded HIV tests" increased by 335 percent. Free tests increased by 415 percent for African-Americans.

* How the D.C. Department of Health's anti-HIV initiatives may be working: "Although the causes of the improvement in these indicators are unknown and cannot be linked to any specific intervention, they suggest improvements in the delivery of HIV testing and linkage to care services in DC," the CDC reports. These efforts include "enhanced collaborations, working with D.C. residents as spokespersons for local marketing campaigns and creating toolkits for health-care providers to expand HIV testing and linkage to care."

* Where to go from here: The CDC recommends that "ongoing and increased HIV testing and efforts to ensure linkage to care are warranted." I'd say so.

  • Rick Mangus

    The numbers are appalling!

  • Toysoldier

    The risk to African-American women is extreme

    That is a misleading statement. In comparison to other women, black women face a higher risk. In comparison to black men (who represent the vast majority of the newly diagnosed), black women are less at risk. The more accurate statement would be "the risk to African-American men is extreme." It is sad to see someone play gender politics with this kind issue, and disturbing to see someone trying to render black men invisible.

  • westcoast

    @Toysoldier -- how about this. The risk to everyone who is having sexual intercourse or other sexual contact within the District is extreme. That's true too and doesn't exclude anyone. I doubt there was intent to render anyone invisible but perhaps a difference in the way the numbers were analyzed. Numbers tell vastly different stories depending on perspective. Let's be progressive and tackle this issue across the board. Where's the mention of gay men in the article? Bet you they account for something too.

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  • Anonymous

    Amanda! Where the trans stats at!?

    Also @Toysoldier--The risk of African-American women **is** extreme. Overall African-American's are 10x more likely to contract HIV than white people. African-American women are 22x more likely. This is mostly because white men are more at risk than than white women. However, because this is a blog that focuses on sex and gender I think Ms. Hess was just trying to highlight this particular discrepancy. Often women of color are overlooked in feminist conversations, and I think this is just a very small example of working to make WOC issues more visible.

  • Amanda Hess

    Anonymous: CDC doesn't play that way! No sexual orientation stats in this report, either. Let me see if I can find some trans stats for you.

  • Warrior1

    I'm not understanding how this renders black, gay men invisible. If the numbers are factual shouldn't the focus be on reducing those stats rather than emphasizing another at-risk population?

  • John

    With the report on HIV vaccines being hopeful, every gay men in DC should think about being a part of that clinical trial. They call the trial hope takes action. They do it at the NIH. There is a website. They also pay you to do it.

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