|Good and Bad News in the newest HIV Surveillance Report|
by Emily Bridges, Director, Public Information Services
Yesterday the District of Columbia Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STDs, and TB released its annual report for 2011, which contained the city’s HIV statistics for 2010.
There was some good news: the prevalence of HIV, or percent of people who are living with the virus, dropped from 3.2 percent to 2.7 percent, a drop that may be accounted for by changes in data collection and population growth in the city. Prevalence among youth was lower than the overall prevalence rate – 0.1 percent for those ages 13-19, and 1.0 percent for those ages 20-29.
New diagnoses of HIV also fell by 24 percent between 2006 and 2010, while HIV-related deaths have decreased by 72 percent as many HIV patients are receiving treatment earlier.
The report, however, contained some disturbing news: the HIV prevalence among African American women in poorer neighborhoods has nearly doubled, from 6.3 percent in 2008 to 12.1 percent in 2010. Over 90 percent of HIV positive women in the District are Black.
Taking a closer look at the data for young people,
The HIV epidemic among African Americans is affected by a number of factors, including poverty, lower access to health care, and institutionalized racism. (Learn more about disparities in the epidemic) African Americans are more at risk of infection even when they have equal or fewer risk behaviors. So while it is important to teach young people how to protect themselves from HIV, it’s as important or more to support structural interventions which seek to address or influence social, political and/or economic environments.