Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

D.C. Sees AIDS Cases Decrease

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and the Department of Health Officials published a report on March 17 that shows, for the first time, a decrease in new AIDS cases in the District.

“There is evidence that our city – government and community together – are making progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. For the first time, we can report that there is a decline in new AIDS cases in the District of Columbia,” Fenty said in the press release. “Armed with the best data available, we can do more to improve the health of all District residents.”

From 2004 to 2008, the number of new AIDS cases decreased by 33 percent. From 2004 to 2007 there was a 30 percent decrease in D.C. citizens dying of AIDS.

The Walter Whitman Clinic has seen a decrease in AIDS diagnoses, according to its Chief Medical Officer, Raymond Martins.

“Our patients overall are doing well with a majority on treatment, and a majority of those on treatment have suppressed HIV viral loads,” he said. “We still have a few patients present to WWC with an AIDS diagnosis, but this is not common. Overall, we see [fewer] AIDS cases than five years ago.”

Martins added that it is important for people to seek HIV tests early in order to prevent its progression to AIDS. The press release reported an increase of 36 percent in the number of people entering HIV medical care within three months of being diagnosed.

Sexually transmitted diseases are a serious epidemic infecting many individuals throughout the nation, especially in major cities. D.C.’s DOH has worked to double free HIV testing from 47,500 in 2006 to 95,000 tests in 2009. Health officials have also doubled the treatment of D.C. citizens with HIV or AIDS since 2007.

The Walter Whitman Clinic has contributed to the number of free HIV tests given in the District.

“We have collaborated with the D.C. Department of Health to encourage more regular HIV testing to District residents,” Martins said. “We have a mobile van that performs HIV testing at high-risk venues targeting at-risk communities, and we have used advertisement to normalize and reduce the stigma of HIV testing.”

The trend has not applied to all STDs, however. The reported new cases of Chlamydia have doubled and new cases of gonorrhea have increased by one third between 2005 and 2008.

Although young adults between the ages of 13 and 29 were the least likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS, statistics show that 85 percent of the people who tested for the Chlamydia and gonorrhea were in this age group.

The Department of Health has made efforts to prevent the spread of STDs, according to the press release, by distributing 3.5 million condoms and offering free testing to 5,000 young people.

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