AIDS and the Black Community in DC

As the International AIDS Conference kicks off in Washington, D.C., this week, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post cites encouraging HIV-infection statistics in the District but also highlights the disproportionate impact of the disease among African Americans there.

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International AIDS Conferemce panel, including Bill Gates
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As the International AIDS Conference kicks off in Washington, D.C., this week, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post writes that the conclave couldn't be hosted by a more appropriate city. Capehart cites encouraging HIV-infection statistics in the District but also highlights the disproportionate impact of the disease among African Americans there.

According to the latest report from the city's department of health, "14,465 residents of the District of Columbia or 2.7% of the population is living with HIV." The study showed a reduction in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases, "from 853 cases in 2009 to 835 cases in 2010." But it hastens to add that "there has been a 24% reduction from 1,103 cases in 2006." There has been a 72 percent drop in new HIV cases among IV drug users. The number of new AIDS cases fell by 32 percent between 2006 and 2010. And no child has been born with HIV in the District since 2009.

Still, there is a limit to the good news. Just as with the national epidemic, African Americans are bearing the brunt of this disease in Washington. Overall, blacks make up 48.4 percent of the population over the age of 12 here, but they account for 75.4 percent of those living with HIV. Black men are 46 percent of the District's male population, but they account for 68.9 percent of those living with HIV. Black women are 50.5 percent of all females in the District, but are 92.4 percent of the living with HIV cases. And while there was a 31 percent reduction in new HIV diagnoses among whites between 2006 and 2010, there was about a 20 percent increase in such diagnoses among blacks.

Read Jonathan Capehart's entire piece at the Washington Post.

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